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The President's Activities

January 21, 2016

A Healthy Life for All — JICA President Kitaoka Holds Talks With Bill Gates and Others at International Conference

Currently, 1 billion people in the world are unable to receive even basic health care services*1, and another 100 million are being pushed further into poverty due to high financial burden of health care.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means that all people receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship throughout their lives.

To explore the role of UHC in the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an international conference*2 entitled “Universal Health Coverage in the New Development Era: Towards Building Resilient and Sustainable Health Systems” was held in Tokyo on Dec. 16.

More than 300 experts and representatives of governments, international agencies, private foundations and civil society participated in the conference. A lively debate was held on strategies for achieving strong and fair UHC, the better global health governance structure and the role of the Group of Seven.

At the opening session, Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, delivered the opening remarks. Shinichi Kitaoka, the president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency; Keizo Takemi, member, the House of Councillors; Bill Gates, co-chair, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Jim Yong Kim, president, the World Bank; and Margaret Chan, director-general, the World Health Organization, also took the stage.

photoFrom left, Shinichi Kitaoka, president, the Japan International Cooperation Agency; Keizo Takemi, member, House of Councillors; Margaret Chan, director-general, the World Health Organization; Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan; Jim Yong Kim, president, the World Bank; Bill Gates co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Akio Okawara, president and chief executive officer, the Japan Center For International Exchange (JCIE).
(Photo courtesy of the Japan Center for International Exchange.)

Publicizing JICA Initiatives to Achieve UHC

photoA scene from the conference. (Photo courtesy of the Japan Center for International Exchange.)

Mr. Kitaoka took the stage during the opening session as the moderator and introduced Mr. Gates as a partner in promoting UHC. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's largest private foundation, has made a large contribution to global health and recently has taken the lead in promoting primary health care. Mr. Kitaoka also talked about the partnership between JICA and the foundation for eradicating polio in Pakistan and Nigeria.

In a session for debating strategies for achieving UHC in various countries, Takao Toda, director general of JICA's Human Development Department, took the stage together with the Kenyan minister of Health, the representatives from international initiatives, namely Stop TB Partnership and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. Mr. Toda said that Japan considers UHC and health system strengthening to be priority issues because of Japan’s experiences of achieving UHC and UHC's affinity with “human security,” Japan's basic philosophy of international cooperation. Regarding the factors leading to Japan's success in the UHC area, he mentioned the characteristics of long-term commitment, an emphasis on improving service quality and a holistic approach. He then announced that Thailand and Japan would cooperate to provide UHC assistance to ASEAN countries and that JICA will expand its projects globally, including disseminating maternal and child health handbooks to various countries.

Also, on Dec. 17, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria held its Preparatory Meeting of the Global Fund Fifth Replenishment, and JICA Vice-President Kae Yanagisawa spoke at the session “Sustainable Finance for UHC.” She praised the great contribution of funds with specialized goals such as the Global Fund, and said that strengthening health systems is essential to promoting UHC. Ms. Yanagisawa said JICA is supporting capacity development and improving the comprehensiveness of the system in its infectious disease control programs, using examples from JICA projects. She also said it is essential to enhance coordination on the national level to effectively use multiple external funds.

Meetings With Dignitaries

photoFrom left, JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka and Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Mr. Kitaoka met separately with Mr. Gates; Ms. Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization; and Mr. Piyasakol, the Thai minister of public health, and discussed with them future cooperation.

In his meeting with Mr. Gates, Mr. Kitaoka said he hopes that the partnership between JICA and the Gates Foundation will be promoted in a wide variety of areas in addition to their current partnership on polio countermeasures. Mr. Gates responded that the Gates Foundation will build on its cooperative achievements with JICA and that it would like to cooperate further with JICA in such areas as primary health care, infectious disease surveillance and malaria control.

photoFrom left, JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka and Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization

In his meeting with Ms. Chan, they agreed that the principle of "human security" advocated by Japan will be a basis of achieving UHC and affirmed that JICA and WHO will continue their partnership and cooperation toward achieving UHC. Ms. Chan also said WHO will welcome future cooperation with the Japan Disaster Relief Infectious Disease Response Team.

photoFrom left, JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka and Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, minister of Public Health, Thailand

In his meeting with Mr. Piyasakol, Mr. Kitaoka said Thailand is an important partner in the promotion of UHC and that two countries could work together to move forward the Asian and global health agendas. Mr. Piyasakol responded that he appreciates its partnership with Japan in the UHC field and he expressed hope for further development of the partnership.

In conclusion

JICA will continue expanding its cooperation toward achieving UHC. Making use of past cooperation in Thailand and Kenya, JICA will advance global mutual learning in addition to its assistance in each country.


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