Sept 17, 2020: More than 40 finance and health ministers and deputy ministers from across Asia and the Pacific stressed the importance of universal health coverage (UHC) and the need for stronger collaboration to mobilize healthcare financing during the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Governors.
At the Joint Ministers of Finance and Health Symposium on Universal Health Coverage in Asia and the Pacific: COVID-19 and Beyond, held virtually today, ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa affirmed ADB’s support for UHC as a foundation of strong health systems.
Mr. Asakawa said, 'close collaboration between finance and health ministers is crucial for our member economies to provide cost-effective, inclusive, and high-quality health interventions, underpinned by sustainable finance.'
In an opening video message, Japan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Taro Aso said, “We will strengthen our collaboration with ADB, expecting that ADB, as the regional family doctor, would uncover the assistance needs of the region and play a leading role in promoting UHC.”
ADB, the Government of Japan, and the World Health Organization (WHO) jointly hosted this seminar, bringing together finance and health ministers to discuss accelerating progress toward UHC in Asia and the Pacific in the new COVID-19 era.
Each year, the cost of healthcare drives tens of millions of people in Asia and the Pacific into poverty. During the pandemic, countries that have achieved UHC, or are close to it, have been able to mobilize critical disease prevention and control measures, such as risk communication, testing, contact tracing, and isolation.
Ministers of Finance and Ministers of Health from Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Viet Nam today shared lessons and successful strategies from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic while discussing the role of UHC in increasing resilience to health and economic shocks.
Over the past 50 years, countries in Asia and the Pacific have made great strides in improving population health. Despite this, COVID-19 has exposed significant gaps in preparedness and response capacities, as well as the link between health security and economic stability.
To help meet these gaps, under Strategy 2030 ADB has committed to supporting the efforts of its developing members to pursue and achieve UHC by providing technical advice and increasing the share of health operations to 3%-5% of total commitments from the 2019 share of 2.66%.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members-49 from the region.