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Speech Transcripts

December 14, 2017

Speech by Dr.Shinichi KITAOKA, at the High-level Opening session, UHC Forum 2017

Tokyo Prince Hotel, Japan

Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan. H.E. Mr. Macky Sall, President of Senegal. H.E. Mr. Htin Kyaw, President of Myanmar. H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations. Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director General of WHO. Mr. Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF. Hon. Dr. Yoshitake Yokokura, President of the World Medical Association. Fellow global health leaders and participants. It is my pleasure to have this opportunity to review our achievements since we met in 2015 and renew our commitments to UHC in Tokyo once again.

Health is the most fundamental right for every human being. No one should be left behind. Women, children, sexual minorities, elders, persons with disabilities, migrants and refugees should all be included. Today, there are still so many people in this world living in anxiety about their own health and the well-being of their families. UHC protects health and provides security by ensuring access to healthcare when it is needed. A sense of security is the source of social vitality and a hope for a better tomorrow. We are here to deliver this hope to the world.

Health promotes social stability and economic growth. The MDGs resulted in the rapid expansion of essential health services, and a significant reduction of maternal and child mortality. However, the success also masks the resulting increased levels of inequality. Growing health inequality is destabilizing the world. UHC reduces health inequality and impoverishment caused by medical spending, contributes to the redistribution of income, and harnesses trust between the state and its citizens. As evidenced by Japan's experience in achieving UHC in 1961, UHC is the foundation for social stability and sustained economic growth. UHC preceded the spectacular economic boom experienced in Japan. It was not a result of economic growth, but rather its driving force.

Predicated on Japan's rich experience, JICA is supporting H.E. President Sall's bold initiative to cover all Senegalese citizens, including the poorest, with adequate health insurance. In Myanmar, we are also working with the government to deliver inclusive healthcare in rural areas. Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and many others are also learning from Japan and other countries to achieve UHC on their own. I am proud that Japan is contributing to the global learning and practices of achieving UHC.

Health unites the world. The promotion of UHC requires substantial engagement by CSOs, academia and the private sector. Globalization poses an emerging threat of infectious diseases that can spread beyond national borders. To protect people's well-beings, we need to come together despite our differences in nationalities, ethnicities or religions. At the TICAD VI Summit, 53 countries with diverse backgrounds were united under the common vision of achieving "UHC in Africa." The Maternal and Child Health Handbook originated in Japan has now been distributed to the mothers in about 40 countries and regions, including Indonesia and Palestine. While its beneficiaries are still limited to 7% of all mothers in the world, we are currently working with the WHO to make the handbook a global standard. JICA will also sign an agreement for cooperation with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention tomorrow to achieve a more resilient African health system. The Africa CDC has been established by the African nations to unite against health emergencies. It is my wish that this forum will further strengthen the solidarity among stakeholders. Let's be united as we work to promote UHC.

Last but not least, good health is not produced by medical services alone. Our task is to create a comprehensive health promoting society, including ensuring safe water, appropriate sanitation, nutrition and education. In Japan we say "prevention is better than any cure." But to achieve this, all sectors must mobilize around health. Therefore I sincerely welcome the presence of H.E. Secretary General of the United Nations together with the heads of other agencies today. Creating a health promoting society will guard us against the sharp rise in medical expenses caused by ageing which is inevitable for all countries. UHC spearheads comprehensive social development and quality economic development, thereby contributing to the achievement of the SDGs.

JICA is working with over 140 countries, in the areas of health, water, sanitation, and nutrition. Our strength lies in the knowledge we've gained from our own development experiences, and in our belief of working side-by-side with the citizens of developing countries. We are committed to work continuously under the policies of the Japanese Government, in partnership with the fellow co-organizers of the forum, and the participating countries and organizations, to achieve Universal Health Coverage on a global scale.

Thank you very much for your attention.


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