I thank the China Medical Education Association for the invitation to address you at the Second Annual China Health Service System Innovation Forum.
Ensuring good health and promoting well-being for all at all ages is essential to sustainable development, building healthy communities and economies and the foundation for prosperous societies.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful demonstration that everything is at risk when our health is under threat.
The pandemic has exposed the inadequacies of many health systems and highlighted the urgency of achieving Universal Health Coverage.
Resilient and inclusive health services and systems help to reduce the loss of life and mitigate adverse health consequences by providing effective care for both routine and emergency health needs.
As the foundation of Universal Health Coverage, strong and equitable primary health care systems are critical for a successful health care delivery system. Strong primary health care will enable a system where services are organized and provided around people’s needs throughout their lives and where all people have access to these services.
According to the World Health Organization, scaling up primary health care interventions across low and middle-income countries could save 60 million lives and increase average life expectancy by 3.7 years by 2030.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The life-saving medicine we need right now is solidarity, which is central to building healthier societies and economies in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
This is not just about improving health services. It is about policies and actions. We must address the broader determinants of health, including social, economic and environmental factors.
First, we must promote increased investment in health professionals. We need highly trained and skilled health workers who are empowered to care for patients’ health, especially mental health, which is often stigmatized and forgotten, by promoting and practising good health and well-being.
Secondly, we need to carry out and consolidate the construction of community health services to ensure children, mothers and families have access to healthcare and other services and are safe from violence in homes, schools, and communities.
Thirdly, innovation has and will continue to play a critical role in responding to diseases, pandemic control, and social development.
We need to scale up health-sector innovation, and ensure these innovations are accessible to health providers in all countries, so that where one resides does not determine the quality of health care received. We continue to need more investment in technologies, medicines and vaccines, so that we are better prepared the next time a pandemic strikes. We also need innovative service delivery models, increased data collection and sharing, better financing mechanisms, and enhanced collaboration and cooperation in the community, within and across countries, and at the global level.
All of these priorities require our collective strength and cooperation.
As Mr. António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, said, “We need Universal Health Coverage, including mental health coverage, now, to strengthen efforts against the pandemic and prepare for future crises.”
Following a decade of reforms towards Universal Health Coverage, China’s health system has demonstrated resilience in responding to COVID-19 and providing a safety net for most of the population. Here, China’s experience and lessons serve as an important contribution to the international community.
To help achieve the vision of the Healthy China 2030 Action Plan, the UN in China stands ready to closely collaborate with the Government of China, academia, and other partners to build capacity and experience, and contribute to better health outcomes.