PIH Leader Urges Global Support, Financing for Universal Health Care at UN

Posted on May 1, 2019

Joia Mukherjee
Dr. Joia Mukherjee, chief medical officer for Partners In Health, recently made a rallying cry at the UN in support of global financing for universal health coverage. Photo by Zack DeClerck / Partners In Health

Following an all-day hearing on universal health coverage at the United Nations, Dr. Joia Mukherjee, chief medical officer for Partners In Health, earned hearty applause from fellow attendees following her impromptu call for wealthy nations to pay their fair share in supporting the right to health for all.

Mukherjee was among 600 representatives of health organizations and civil society from around the world who gathered at UN headquarters in New York City on Monday to urge that the global universal health coverage, or UHC, movement adopt six “key asks,” including international political support, regulation and legislation, partnership with nongovernmental organizations, and financial backing, among others. Their requests were meant to inform the political declaration that will guide the UN’s High Level Meeting on UHC in September.

Mukherjee’s rallying cry about global financial support for UHC was welcomed by the majority of those in attendance. 

“We must stand in clear opposition to the commercialization of care promoted by those who see UHC primarily about financial protection or insurance,” she said. “Study after study has shown that any fees or copayments increase inequity.”

Global action and financial support are imperative, Mukherjee added, given the long history of extraction of natural and human resources from countries in the Global South, following “the legacy of the dehumanizing history of colonization and imperialism.

“If we are to learn from the tragic mistakes of the past, we must clearly outline the collective global responsibility for protecting, respecting and fulfilling the human right to health,” she said. “This includes committing global resources to close the gap between what countries can mobilize domestically and what is truly required for high-quality health care for all in low- and middle-income countries.”

For Mukherjee’s full UN statement, listen below:


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