In May 2019, Advisory Group member Dr. Khuat Thi Hai Oanh represented the CSEM at the Second Regional Seminar for the Asia-Pacific Region Parliaments on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The seminar was hosted by the State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia in collaboration with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Mongolia. The IPU passed a parliamentary resolution on UHC in October 2019.
Dr. Oanh called on the over 100 high-level delegates representing 19 countries to prioritize UHC. One of the delegations was from the Federal States of Micronesia (FSM), led by Speaker of Congress Wesley W. Simina. The FSM is a country in the Western Pacific region where more than half of the people living in some countries lack coverage of essential health services. “Parliaments can and should play a critical role in ensuring that countries contribute to making the political declaration of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on UHC) inclusive, ambitious, actionable and accountable,” Dr. Oanh urged.
The message was part of the CSEM’s broader advocacy leading up to the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UN HLM on UHC) held in September 2019, which led to the inclusion of some civil society priorities in the Political Declaration.
In a letter, the FSM Congress expressed gratitude to Dr. Oanh for, on behalf of the CSEM, influencing their decision to pass the UHC resolution. The resolution not only recognizes the need for health for all but commits to the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development principle of reaching first those left furthest behind first. “Your presentation on Universal Health Coverage was a conceptual breakthrough for us in the FSM Congress, and led us to start rethinking our health policy in the FSM,” Wesley W. Simina wrote.
The FSM’s decision to act is an exemplary step in the right direction to building UHC and leaving no one behind. To keep the promise made in the Political Declaration of the HLM on UHC, it is important for governments to make commitments at the national level, and translate those commitments into action. The CSEM commends the FSM for this critical step and looks forward to seeing action on the ground that will benefit the people currently without coverage of health services in the country. The FSM story symbolizes hope for more country-level action that will benefit the half of the world’s population that is without access to essential health services.