UICC urges WHO member states to accelerate action on cancer to fulfil the promise of UHC

22 May 2019

22 May 2019 | Geneva, Switzerland – WHO Member States agreed three resolutions on universal health coverage on the third day of the 72nd World Health Assembly. They focus on: primary healthcare, the role of community health workers, and the September UN General Assembly high-level meeting on UHC.

The first resolution urges Member States to take measures to implement the Declaration of Astana, adopted at the 2018 Global Conference on Primary Health Care. It recognises the key role strong primary health care plays in ensuring countries can provide the full range of health services – be it disease prevention or treatment, rehabilitation or palliative care.

Primary health care means countries must have quality, integrated health systems, empowered individuals and communities, and that they must involve a wide range of sectors in addressing social, economic, and environmental determinants of health.

The second resolution recognises the contribution made by community health workers to achieving universal health coverage, responding to health emergencies, and promoting healthier populations.

The final UHC resolution endorsed by Member States supports preparation for the UN General Assembly high-level meeting on universal health coverage in September 2019. The resolution calls on Member States to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage with a focus on poor, vulnerable and marginalised individuals and groups.

UICC seized the opportunity to encourage Member States to commit to increased investment in core services for cancer and NCDs.

“The upcoming meeting on UHC is a critical opportunity to set out an ambitious and comprehensive framework to coordinate action to ensure that ‘nobody is left behind’. Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality globally, claiming 9.6 million lives a year but it is also a disease of inequity and so we urge member states to accelerate action on cancer to fulfil the promise of UHC”.
– Rosie Tasker, Global Advocacy Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

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Many of the WHA72 side events that took place throughout the day also focused on UHC:

How women can deliver UHC for women and adolescents

“Women and adolescents are not special interest groups or vulnerable populations, we make up more than half of humanity,” stated Lois Quam, CEO, Pathfinder, she opened up the session on “How women can deliver UHC for women and adolescents”.

Panellists discussed the importance of addressing sexual and reproductive health as part of UHC and the need to support a strong female healthcare workforce.

Evidence-based advocacy would be key to generating the political will necessary to train and educate more female community health workers that can lead the delivery of UHC for women and adolescents, including cancer care.

Leaving no one behind: Leading with equity from the community to the hospital through a comprehensive UHC strategy

Patients, healthcare providers and health system builders discussed the importance of including chronic diseases in the efforts to leave no one behind.

This would only be possible by involving those living with chronic diseases, with support and supplies for community health workers walking long distances to reach patients and a health system that includes a budget for NCDs.

Panellist emphasised that new solutions would have to be sought if certain cost-effective interventions became less effective over time.

Health for All: Gene and Cell Therapies in Universal Health Coverage

This session highlighted the issue of covering expensive gene and cell therapies under UHC for example CAR T-cell treatments like Yescarta or the gene-therapy, Luxturna.

According to the panellists, governments struggle with not just the pricing but also with the complex delivery procedures.

Participants concluded that there was an urgency to determine the value of these new therapies, in particular when it comes to treating chronic diseases and cancers and compare the cost of one-time treatments versus years of continuous conventional treatment.

For immediate updates throughout WHA (#WHA72) please follow @uicc on Twitter or watch the 72nd World Health Assembly live here.

For more information: Read WHO's full press release here.

Last update: 
Friday 7 June 2019
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