The first-ever United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UN HLM on UHC) will take place in less than three months on September 23, 2019, in New York City. The theme of the HLM on UHC is “Moving Together to Build a Healthier World.” Members of the Civil Society Engagement Mechanism for UHC2030 (CSEM) have been advocating with their governments for an effective outcome of the HLM on UHC as outlined in our HLM advocacy commentary in The Lancet. Negotiations on the political declaration are underway in New York, and governments are preparing the commitments to UHC that their Heads of State will endorse in September. We have compiled a set of UN HLM on UHC Frequently Asked Questions and will continue to provide updates on opportunities for engagement, and other HLM-related information in the coming weeks.
Key advocacy messages
In the early stages of preparations for UN HLM on UHC, the CSEM gathered civil society inputs to inform HLM advocacy. The feedback from civil society informed the Civil Society Priority Actions for the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage and the Key Asks from the UHC Movement for the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage. We call on all stakeholders to help promote the incorporation of these key asks and priority actions into the Political Declaration.
Negotiations on the Political Declaration
The UN HLM on UHC will result in a political declaration on universal health coverage, negotiated by the Member States and endorsed by Heads of State and Government. H.E. Mr. Kaha Imnadze, Permanent Representative of Georgia to the UN, and H.E. Mr. Vitavas Srivihok, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the UN, have been selected as the meeting co-facilitators. They have a critical role in the meeting preparations and will chair key discussions and negotiations. The co-facilitators shared the zero draft Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage in May 2019. The ongoing intergovernmental political declaration negotiation process is only open to UN Member States. Negotiations are currently scheduled to continue through July 8, 2019, though may be extended.
Advocating for Key Asks in the Political Declaration
Civil society and other stakeholders can advocate for an effective HLM and political declaration through lobbying with member state delegations both in the capital or through their respective Permanent Missions to the United Nations in New York. Civil society advocates are encouraged to share the Civil Society Priority Actions and the Key Asks from the UHC Movement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in their country, and encourage the Ministry to share the asks in its communications with the Mission in New York. Outreach to Ministry of Health, which could provide useful information on progress towards universal health coverage in the country and also share the key asks with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, could also be useful.
In addition to advocacy around the Political Declaration, civil society and other stakeholders should encourage their government to 1) send the Head of State and highest level political delegation to the HLM so that concrete, measurable commitments can be made to advance UHC and 2) include civil society in the member state delegation to the HLM.
Country Advocacy Meetings
In the leadup to the HLM, IFRC, UNAIDS, and other CSEM partners have been organizing country advocacy meetings to influence governments to participate in the HLM and make specific commitments to advance UHC. Information on past and upcoming meetings and guidance on how to organize an advocacy meeting in your own country is available on the dedicated CSEM UN HLM on UHC Country Advocacy Meetings page. In order to contribute to evidence-based UHC advocacy, CSEM and Save the Children UK collated UHC data on hundreds of countries to inform existing knowledge gaps on the state of UHC in each respective country. View the data here.
Attending the HLM
Registration for the HLM is open until August 9, 2019 for ECOSOC-accredited NGOs (register here) and for those who received special accreditation to participate in the interactive multi-stakeholder hearing/high-level meeting through the online accreditation process earlier this year (register here). Participation in the HLM will be open to only one member per organization. The CSEM, unfortunately, does not have the resources to support travel and participation in the HLM. The actual meeting on September 23 will be organized into a plenary session with Heads of State, in parallel with two multi-stakeholder panels on ‘UHC as driver of equity, inclusive development and prosperity for all’ and ‘Accelerate multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder actions and investments for achieving UHC.’ Many side events related to UHC are being planned for the week of the HLM both inside and outside the UN by governments and partners. For HLM-specific updates, visit the website of the President of the General Assembly. Continue to follow the CSEM newsletter for updates on events, and if you are organizing an event please share details with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the HLM
In the post-HLM period, civil society advocates will have a central role to play in building awareness around the high-level meeting outcomes at the country level. Advocates can publicize the commitments that their governments made at the meeting. It will also be important to mobilize civil society partners, communities and other allies and advocate for strong accountability mechanisms at the national level, so that they can hold government to account for ensuring health for all, including the most vulnerable and marginalized. The CSEM will continue to bridge the gap between global and local UHC advocacy, as well as promote information sharing*, knowledge exchange and collaboration among civil society organizations.
*Other Important HLM-Related Events and Resources.
Interactive Multi-Stakeholder Hearing
Following an open call for applications to participate in the hearing, the President of the General Assembly (PGA) with support from WHO and UHC2030 convened an interactive multi-stakeholder hearing in April 2019. At the hearing, civil society and other stakeholders presented statements on the desired outcomes of the UN HLM. A summary of the hearing is available on the UHC2030 news page and the UN website.
Communications and Advocacy Tools
We call on all stakeholders to help promote the incorporation of the key asks and priority actions into the political declaration using tools that are available on the CSEM website and on the UHC2030 HLM campaign page. Remember to join our growing #UHC4me Global Video Campaign in three easy steps! Watch the videos advocates have sent from all over the world and join the quest for #HealthForAll here.
Join the CSEM
Still have questions about the UN HLM on UHC? Email us at email@example.com. The CSEM will provide full information on participation in the HLM as it becomes available from the President of the General Assembly in the next few weeks. Please look out for this information in our newsletter CSEM Voices, accessible only to members, or on our website and Twitter feed. If you are not yet a member, join us here to receive timely updates on all UHC and civil society-related updates before and after the high-level meeting.