UN Member States have approved the Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage: moving together to build a healthier world.
This vital document gained consensus, following months of negotiations, last week.
The Political Declaration includes recognition that 'universal health coverage is fundamental for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals not only to health and well-being, but also to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions, ensure quality education, achieve gender equality and women's empowerment, reduce inequalities'.
FIGO has been actively contributing to high-level debates surrounding this draft declaration throughout 2019, starting with presenting our statement at the WHO Executive Board meeting in January where we clearly stated:
"A key theme of the UHC movement is 'investing more and smarter.' For women, girls and adolescents, this means integrating sexual and reproductive health and rights from the beginning.
If women can access quality, cost-effective and efficient primary health care, they are more able to work and earn money, and to care for their children, therefore ensuring the sustainability of health systems in the long term, and that no-one is left behind
FIGO, with our 132 member societies, are therefore concerned that the draft resolution on ensuring Universal Health Coverage (UHC), at present does not address women's and adolescents' needs, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and gender equality."
We repeated this message during the World Health Assembly in May, and again during 'The Power of Community: UHC Advocates and Stakeholders' session at Women Deliver 2019 in Vancouver.
The global voice of FIGO's 132 National Member Societies, which aligned with a broad range of global partners, was heard.
The Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage: moving together to build a healthier world specifically highlights our priority themes as commitments to take action:
Sexual reproductive health and rights, and gender equality are not the only areas of interest for FIGO and our members.
Over the past year, we have actively communicated and advocated for crucial areas on the women's health agenda, including several points included as priority areas in the new Political Declaration:
13 – Commitment to the Declaration of Alma-Ata and reaffirmed by last year's Declaration of Astana.
14 – recognise the fundamental importance of equity and social justice, as well as the elimination of the root causes of discrimination and stigma in healthcare settings to ensure universal and equitable access to quality health services.
15 – Recognition of the adverse impact on climate change, natural disasters and extreme weather events as well as other determinants of health, such as clean air, water and sanitation.
With a commitment to scale up efforts and further implement the following actions:
28 – Take multi-sectorial action to promote an active and healthy lifestyle, with a particular emphasis on the nutrition needs of pregnant and lactating women, women of reproductive age and adolescent girls, and of infants and young children, especially during the first 1,000 days
29 – take measures to reduce maternal, neonatal, infant and child mortality and morbidity and increase access to quality healthcare services for all women before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth
33 – Further strengthen efforts to address non-communicable diseases as part of universal health coverage
60 - Take immediate steps towards addressing the global shortfall of 18 million health workers
63 – Provide better opportunities and working environment for women to ensure their role and leadership in the health sector, with a view to increasing the meaningful representation, engagement, participation and empowerment of all women in the workforce
65 – Strengthen capacity on health intervention and technology assessment, data collection and analysis, to achieve evidence-based decisions at all levels
Of course, a declaration can become only words on a page.
The challenges women face in seeking quality care and achieving active participation in their health and rights are not 'OBGYN problems' – they are challenges we must tackle together.
As a global federation, FIGO remains committed to ensuring that, once the 193 UN Member States adopt the Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage: moving together to build a healthier world next week, these critical dimensions of UHC become a reality for all women, everywhere.
Partnership has been at the heart of our efforts to shape the UHC agenda throughout 2019. This week we affirm our commitment to partnerships that will deliver a future where universal access to women’s health and rights become a reality.