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As Political Momentum Builds, 860+ Organizations Call on Leaders to Act with Ambition to Achieve Health for All

The Rockefeller Foundation announces grant of nearly US$1.5 million to International Health Partnership for UHC 2030, a new platform to drive global progress toward universal health coverage.

Universal Health Coverage Coalition hosts more than 80 events in 33 countries to mark Universal Health Coverage Day 2016; strengthening primary health care called out as key priority.

11 December 2016 — On the third annual Universal Health Coverage Day on 12 December 2016, a coalition of 864 organizations in 117 countries will affirm that health is a human right, that no one should go bankrupt when they get sick, and that universal health coverage underpins our collective security and prosperity. Recognizing that 400 million people worldwide still lack access to essential health services—the vast majority of which can be delivered through the primary health care system—partners will host more than 80 events in 33 countries to call on political leaders to uphold commitments to achieve health for all. Universal health coverage was endorsed by the United Nations last year as one of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

To accelerate progress toward this goal, The Rockefeller Foundation today announced a US$1,498,945 commitment to the International Health Partnership for UHC 2030 (UHC 2030), a new multi-stakeholder initiative to sustain political commitment, advocate for resources and strengthen dialogue and accountability for universal health coverage. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, formally launched UHC 2030 in September 2016. The Rockefeller Foundation will also formally join the initiative as a member.

“The global community has spoken—the question is no longer if universal health coverage is the right goal, but when we will achieve it,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Progress now will depend on bold political leadership and a strong commitment to accountability. The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to support the new International Health Partnership for UHC 2030, which will help ensure that our vision of health for all is met with equally ambitious action.”

Growing Political Momentum for Universal Health Coverage

The launch of UHC 2030 is one of a number of new political commitments to universal health coverage in 2016:

  • G7 Leaders & Health Ministers Endorse Universal Health Coverage: In May, global leaders committed to promote universal health coverage in the G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration. In September, the Kobe Communiqué from the G7 Health Ministers’ Meeting called on policymakers to advance universal health coverage as a means to respond to diverse health challenges and to promote health for all. 
  • The Elders Launch Universal Health Coverage Initiative: Also in May, The Elders—an independent group of esteemed global leaders—began a new initiative to call for universal access to health care as a way of saving lives, tackling poverty, empowering women and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • US$24 Billion Commitment to Universal Health Coverage in Africa: Ahead of the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VI), the World Bank Group and the Global Fund committed to invest US$24 billion to support countries’ efforts to implement the framework below over the next three to five years.
  • New Framework for Universal Health Coverage in Africa: At TICAD-VI, the World Bank Group and the World Health Organization, together with the Government of Japan, Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and the African Development Bank, launched UHC in Africa: A Framework for Action, a guide for countries pursuing health reforms. 

“Everyone should have access to health care without financial worries,” said Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Deputy Chair of The Elders. “Too many people suffer ill health or even die because they cannot get the treatment that should be readily available.”

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: universal health coverage is the most powerful concept that public health has to offer,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “Ensuring access to health without financial hardship builds fair, stable and cohesive societies.”

There is increasing evidence that universal health coverage is a smart investment. Health improvements drove a quarter of full-income growth in developing countries between 2000 and 2011. At this rate of return, every US$1 invested in health would produce US$9-US$20 of full-income growth over the next 20 years. Seventeen percent of people in low- and middle-income countries are pushed or further pushed into poverty (US$2/day) because of health spending.

“When people can lead healthy, productive lives, economies soar,” said Dr. Tim Evans, Senior Director of Health Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group. “Countries at every income level can and must act on evidence and invest in the health of their citizens.”

Primary Health Care as Pathway

On Universal Health Coverage Day 2016, partners are recognizing primary health care as a key priority on the pathway to achieving health for all. Strong primary health care systems can manage 90% of people’s health needs, so that patients only need to visit hospitals or specialists 10% of the time. However, use of these critical services is impeded by cost. Individuals currently pay more out-of-pocket for primary health care than governments and donors combined. 

“Strong primary health care improves, protects and saves lives, especially in the poorest and most marginalized communities,” said Dr. Chris Elias, President of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “If the global community is serious about reaching universal health coverage, we cannot afford to ignore the pressing need for better investments in primary health care systems.”

Events Worldwide Mark Universal Health Coverage Day

Universal Health Coverage Coalition partners are planning more than 80 events in 33 countries to mark Universal Health Coverage Day and urge national leaders to accelerate reforms toward health for all. Highlights include:

  • Bangladesh: SERAC-Bangladesh will host the first-ever youth-focused conference on Universal Health Coverage, convening policymakers, civil society and media in Dhaka.
  • Kenya: The Africa Capacity Alliance will hold a panel discussion in Nairobi to urge greater action toward improving health systems. Participants will include national policymakers, UN representatives and private sector representatives. 
  • Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia: Cordaid will host events in five countries that will feature Ministry of Health representatives, civil society stakeholders and affected communities. Event attendees will use Cordaid’s awareness video, “The Walk,” as an entry point to discuss the right to health.
  • Switzerland: The International Health Partnership for UHC 2030, WHO, The World Bank Group, Save the Children, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and The Rockefeller Foundation will host a meeting in Geneva to explore how domestic investments are critical to reducing health burdens.  
  • South Africa: Treatment Action Campaign will host a dialogue in Johannesburg featuring partners from the National Health Department of South Africa on policy developments since the launch of last year’s National Health Insurance white paper.
  • United Kingdom: The Action for Global Health Network will collaborate with civil society partners to convene parliamentarians, grassroots activists and media at the British Houses of Parliament to promote universal health coverage in the Sustainable Development Goal era.
  • United States: The World Health Organization’s Office in New York, in collaboration with the World Bank Group and the Japanese and French Missions to the United Nations, will host a panel in New York City about ways to drive political momentum around universal health coverage.
  • Zambia: Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign will host a media event in Lusaka to secure health commitments from the recently-elected Minister of Health in order to help shape the organization’s multi-year advocacy plan. 

About The Rockefeller Foundation
For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today, The Rockefeller Foundation pursues this mission through dual goals: advancing inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, and building resilience by helping people, communities and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. To achieve these goals, The Rockefeller Foundation works at the intersection of four focus areas—advance health, revalue ecosystems, secure livelihoods, and transform cities—to address the root causes of emerging challenges and create systemic change. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot—or will not. For more information, please visit

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