Event marks Universal Health Coverage Day and comes ahead of next year’s UN High Level Meeting on UHC and Hiroshima G7 Summit
- Opening and keynote speakers from Daiichi Sankyo, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labour and the World Bank Group were among event highlights
- Diverse roster of international speakers included health and disease experts from Ghana, Switzerland, United States and Vietnam
On 13 December in Tokyo, Access Accelerated—the largest industry-led initiative addressing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)—and its partners brought together speakers from around Japan and abroad for a timely and forward-looking discussion at an in-person and online event called Accelerating UHC: Critical lessons in scaling up access to NCD care to achieve ‘Health for All’.
Opening speaker Dr. Sunao Manabe, President and CEO of Daiichi Sankyo, a member company of Access Accelerated, said:
“It was inspiring to once again be together in the same room with our colleagues from here in Japan and around the world. We have learned much from the challenges of the past few years, and chief among them is the urgent need to strengthen our health systems and prioritize healthcare for all. If we are to reach the UN’s 2030 global goals for addressing noncommunicable diseases, we must collaborate, hear different perspectives and have exactly the kinds of meaningful and unflinching dialogues we experienced at this event. Millions of lives hang in the balance.”
The discussions came at a time when UHC is squarely in the global spotlight. Hiroshima is set to host the G7 Summit in May, with UHC figuring prominently on the agenda, and that will be followed by the second-ever UN High Level Meeting on UHC in September. Together, these events signal a growing desire among experts and world leaders to take decisive steps toward addressing UHC.
After the Tokyo event, the first keynote speaker, Mr Tokio Ozawa, Deputy Assistant Minister International Policy Planning in Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, said:
“The world has long looked to Japan as a model of a country that has not only successfully delivered Universal Health Coverage but has also demonstrated an excellent early response to noncommunicable diseases. As a nation, Japan has an unwavering commitment to working closely with countries on meeting the challenges of achieving UHC, and that includes ensuring that NCDs are thoroughly integrated into UHC strategies and policies.”
Speakers and panelists addressed a room packed with attendees from Japan’s leading NCD and health organizations, with many more tuning into the livestream, which was broadcast globally.
Following his keynote address, Dr. Hajime Inoue, Advisor, Health, Nutrition and Population program at the World Bank Group, said:
“Noncommunicable diseases are a complex issue that challenge the very limits of health systems around the world. Progress on NCDs relies on achieving UHC. Meaningful progress cannot happen in a silo. Addressing UHC and NCDs means engaging in deep collaboration and conversations across all sectors–public, private and civil society–and that’s exactly what we saw this evening.”
A spirited panel discussion followed the opening and keynote presentations and offered diverse global perspectives, including from Ghana and Vietnam on the opportunities for LMICs to accelerate UHC and their NCD response, as well as the ways stronger primary care can serve as a critical defense in the fight against NCDs. Panelists included representatives from Access Accelerated members City Cancer Challenge, the NCD Alliance and PATH, alongside the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The event culminated with insightful reflections from Ms. Saba Husain, Senior Director of Health Partnerships at Eli Lilly and Company and a member of the Access Accelerated Steering Committee, who said:
“Adopting and robustly funding UHC to effectively address the rising burden of noncommunicable diseases is critical to ensuring that every person has access to the basic health services they need to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Collective action, investment and innovation will help ensure that no one is left behind.”