Statement by Joan Prince, Senior Advisor, on United Nations General Assembly Agenda Item 123, Global Health and Foreign Policy, December 12, 2012

Joan Prince, Senior Advisor
New York, NY
December 12, 2012



Thank You, Mr. President. The expansion of health care coverage has been at the forefront of our domestic agenda, and we believe it is appropriate for the international community to begin putting it at the forefront of its agenda as well.

Universal health coverage is fundamentally about all people having equal access to care. President Obama has made access to healthcare a landmark issue of his Administration, through the Affordable Care Act, which seeks to dramatically expand Americans' access to the healthcare services. The Affordable Care Act advances this goal for the United States, including numerous provisions to keep health care costs low, promote prevention, and it will ultimately expand health coverage to 30 million Americans who are currently living without coverage.

The United States believes health coverage is a national level concern and responsibility and for progress and sustainability, national governments must take on the fundamental challenges to move towards more inclusive access. This is particularly relevant as the economies of many low- and middle-income countries are undergoing unprecedented economic transition. Half of the countries that were low-income in the year 2000 have or will become middle-income countries by 2020.

The resolution we are about to adopt acknowledges the diversity of approaches to financing and sustaining health care systems that seek to achieve universal health coverage. The United States thanks France and the core group of co-sponsors for the open and inclusive way in which they developed the 67th UN General Assembly Global Health and Foreign Policy resolution Moving Towards Universal Health Coverage. We recognize the relevance of the topic and are pleased to have cosponsored this important Resolution.

We recognize the importance of access to medicine and further note that countries have a wide array of policies and actions that may be appropriate in promoting the progressive realization of the right to the enjoyment of the highest available standard of physical and mental health. Therefore, we think that this resolution should not try to define the content of the right.

Furthermore, to the extent that it is implied in this resolution, the United States does not recognize creation of any new right which we have not previously recognized, the expansion of the content or coverage of existing rights, or any other change in the current state of treaty or customary international law.

The United States acknowledges the importance of universal health coverage as an important means to address global health challenges as we seek to achieve the MDGs and discuss the post-2015 development agenda. We also welcome the continued focus on health as a critical foreign policy issue, and are enhancing the U.S. State Department’s capabilities to conduct diplomacy in support of global health, including through the upcoming naming of a global health ambassador.

The United States is committed to partner with countries in their efforts to strengthen health systems and in areas that help expand access, reduce health disparities, and strengthen capacities. We do this by improving health resource tracking to enable countries to understand the dynamics and gaps in current health financing arrangements, a first step to improving them. Our development assistance helps countries lay the foundations for universal health coverage by strengthening and increasing human resources for health, identifying and scaling up high impact interventions, improving the quality and efficient purchasing of medicines, strengthening institutional and management capacities, and improving and institutionalizing quality of care.

The need is plain and the challenges real for our governments both domestically and internationally. Advancing global health for all remains a top priority for the United States and this important resolution confirms the centrality of the challenge and the opportunity before us.

Thank you, Mr. President.


PRN: 2012/291