A few weeks ago, I travelled to Geneva for a meeting the Rockefeller Foundation co-convened with the World Health Organization. The meeting focused on planning a global strategy for embedding universal health coverage (UHC) within the post-2015 development agenda, and coincided with the World Health Assembly. Participants from countries like India, Japan, Ghana, Malaysia, France, Thailand, the United States as well as institutions such as the World Bank and USAID and non-governmental organizations like Oxfam, Management Sciences for Health, Save the Children and Action for Global Health came together discuss how to follow up on the recent attention paid to UHC through the recent United Nations General Assembly Resolution and the WHO/World Bank Ministerial meeting on UHC.
This meeting was particularly timely and exciting because the next day, the President of the World Bank, Jim Kim, came to Geneva to address the Assembly. This was the first time a World Bank President would speak to the World Health Assembly. Jim Kim’s speech focused on universal health coverage. Prior to this speech, some questioned whether or not the Bank would work on UHC. This speech removed any doubt.
The World Bank President wholeheartedly and warmly embraced UHC, committed the Bank to work on the issue, condemned user fees and called for the Bank and WHO to cooperate more closely to reduce fragmentation and cooperate in helping countries achieve UHC. His words and speech had the World Health Assembly on its feet more than once. Kim’s remarks felt like another defining moment in the Foundation’s and others’ quest to see UHC become a global reality, especially falling on the heels of Margaret Chan’s remarks that also lauded the efforts of those of us championing UHC.