Event Report

The Significance of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Today's World from a SDGs Viewpoint and the Role of the United Nations

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The Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), the United Nations Information Centre, Tokyo and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA), with the support of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), held an open webinar on April 13, 2021 titled "The Significance of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Today's World from a SDGs Viewpoint and the Role of the United Nations".

Based on experience garnered with its own universal health insurance system that will mark its 60th anniversary in 2021, Japan considers strengthening health systems worldwide to be a global issue and thus led efforts to incorporate UHC into the SDGs through the United Nations. The process by which UHC became an agenda item for the entire international community offers an excellent example of the synergistic effects between the United Nations' functions and Japan's efforts.

In the webinar, experts discussed UHC, the significance of which has garnered renewed attention during the coronavirus pandemic, from various perspectives such as the SDGs, the role of the United Nations and Japan's efforts in health diplomacy.

Following the welcome remarks by JIIA President Kenichiro Sasae, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed delivered a video message titled "SDGs and UHC". Then, Keizo Takemi, a member of Japan's House of Councilors and the WHO Goodwill Ambassador for UHC, gave a keynote speech entitled "Health Diplomacy and UHC in Japan" in which he explained that Japan has played a central role in promoting UHC globally through multilateral diplomacy, and stressed the importance of strengthening the global vaccine supply framework such as COVAX by positioning vaccines as an international public good during a coronavirus pandemic requiring a global solution. Following this, JIIA Director-General Tomiko Ichikawa served as moderator while the panelists - Hiroshi Minami, Ambassador for Public Diplomacy at MOFA and Deputy Director General of the Cabinet Secretariat's Office of Healthcare Policy; Akihiro Seita, Director of the Health Programme at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA); and Joji Nakayama, Chairman of the Keidanren Committee on Corporate Behavior and SDGs as well as Senior Advisor to Daiichi Sankyo - gave presentations from the vantage points of the Japanese government, international organizations, and the business community. After comments from Mr. Takemi, Nobuko Kayashima, Senior Vice President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and Frank Okyere, Ambassador of Ghana to Japan, offered remarks from the perspectives of on-the-ground assistance and developing countries respectively, to which the panelists responded with further discussion.

[Watch the Event] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPkN8TnLekc