October 10, 2017
JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka visited the United States from September 17 to 20.
On Sept. 18, Mr. Kitaoka attended "World Leaders for Universal Health Coverage," a side event to the 72nd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Universal Health Coverage (UHC) refers to a situation in which all people can use the essential, high-quality health care services they need at a price they can afford. According to the World Health Organization and the World Bank, 400 million people in the world lack complete access to basic health care services and every year 100 million people fall into poverty because of the burden of medical expenses. UHC is one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)*1, which the international community has agreed to cooperate to achieve.
The side event comes ahead of UHC Forum 2017, planned for December in Tokyo, where specific policies for achieving UHC will be discussed. The objective of the side event was for world leaders to share their visions for achieving UHC. It was jointly sponsored by the government of Japan, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UHC2030*2, the Rockefeller Foundation and others.
After Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave the opening and keynote addresses, Mr. Kitaoka, Senegalese President Macky Sall and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, spoke.
In his speech, Mr. Kitaoka said UHC saves lives and contributes to social stability and even economic growth. Promoting UHC is an obligation of the international community, and UHC supports the achievement of many targets of the SDGs such as poverty reduction, nutrition improvement, the spread of education and gender equality. Finally, it guarantees access to health care services for all people, including the poor, and stimulates the expansion of the health care market and technological innovation.
This event and the UHC Forum in December are opportunities for JICA to deepen its partnerships with international agencies such as the World Bank and the World Health Organization and contribute to the global agenda of promoting UHC. Moreover, JICA is using Japan’s experience in the health care field and experience from development assistance to support initiatives to achieve UHC in developing countries.
In addition, on Sept. 18, Mr. Kitaoka met with UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner for the first time. The two men discussed the direction of reforms at the United Nations' development-related bodies and initiatives by JICA and UNDP toward achieving the SDGs. They also talked about possibilities for strengthening partnerships with Japan's private sector. Also, Mr. Kitaoka met with U.S. Deputy Assistant to the President Everett Eissenstat and discussed the review of the U.S. development assistance system, their viewpoints on emerging donors and possibilities for strengthening the two countries' partnership on energy and other infrastructure.
*1 The SDGs consist of 17 goals and 169 targets to be achieved by 2030 by the international community.
*2 UHC2030 is an international platform established with the goal of coordinating and cooperating on initiatives by participating countries, agencies and organizations to promote UHC. Since 2017, JICA Vice President Takao Toda has been co-chair of the UHC2030 Steering Committee.