Remarks by Angel Gurría
United Nations Headquarters, New York, 18 September 2017
(as prepared for delivery)
Excellencies, dear colleagues,
Congratulations to our co-hosts for convening this timely event. As we have heard from the many distinguished panelists, universal health coverage is the key to progress on the whole SDG agenda.
Access to timely and effective health care and prevention reduces human misery. But it also contributes to many other SDGs. For example, providing healthcare at affordable prices stops people being driven into poverty.
The OECD is proud to be part of the UHC2030 partnership, and we look forward to working with you as we move towards universal health coverage.
This push for universal health coverage won’t succeed without the “everyday heroes” of our health system – the health workers on which they depend.
I was privileged to serve on the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, which showed that health is an investment, not a financial burden.
Around one quarter of the economic growth in low- and middle income countries between 2000 and 2011 resulted from improved health.
The OECD is working with the WHO and ILO to make the “Working for Health” action plan a reality. Its aim is to scale up the supply of skilled health workers, encourage investment in health-related jobs, create working conditions that attract and retain health workers, and ensure that international flows of health workers are mutually beneficial. None of this can be done without the investment of UN member states, including through a UN trust fund that is being established. I hope those represented here will rise to the challenge and make the necessary resources available.
As a committed partner of UHC2030, the OECD will put its collective experience of health system transformation at the disposal of countries as they develop more people-centred and increasingly efficient health systems. This includes sharing good practices on fiscal sustainability in health and long-term care, as well as the efforts of our Development Assistance Committee to ensure that development finance has maximum impact.
The SDG clock is ticking. Collectively, we must start delivering now. The OECD is ready to play its part, with the United Nations and for the United Nations.