Distinguished panelists and guests,
It is an honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Armenia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine align themselves with this declaration.
I would like to thank the Secretary-General for the opportunity to gather particular attention for global health, especially in the light of the forthcoming review of the Millennium Development Goals in 2010 and in the context of the recent global agreements on primary health care, including health system strengthening and reducing health inequities through action on the social determinants of health at the World Health Assembly.
Let me express the views of the European Union on all three topics of today. First of all, the European Union has reiterated its commitment together with partners to reach significant progress on global health in the ‘Agenda for Action on the Millennium Development Goals’ in June 2008, and, most recently, in the Conclusions of the Council of the European Union on ‘Supporting developing countries in coping with the crisis’, in May of this year.
The Agenda for Action estimated a public financing gap of 13,4 billion Euros in developing countries and committed to additional support of 8 billion Euros by 2010, including 6 billion Euros dedicated to Africa. It would result in scaling up and empowerment of the health workforce, development of sustainable financing health systems, increased coverage of Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses programmes as well as support for country efforts to reach universal coverage with effective interventions to control malaria through supplying bed nets. In general, this would allow providing comprehensive health care through additional funding for national plans, including through International Health Partnership and aiming for the universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010. The European Union continues to support financially many significant initiatives. Despite of the fact that we are still facing the financial and economic crisis and its full effects, the EU encourages all countries to maintain their efforts to strengthen and improve their health systems.
To further efforts from developing countries, the European Union is working closely with African governments through the European Union – Africa Millennium Development Goals Partnership and striving for fulfilment of their commitment to allocate 15% of state budgets to health, in line with the 2001 Abuja Declaration.
The figures of maternal mortality are at a virtual standstill in some regions during the past decades. Progress will depend on our willingness to address the root causes to the vulnerability of women, including sexual violence and inequality. The European Union shares the expert consensus with regard to three priority activities in order to reduce maternal mortality: family planning, skilled assistance and emergency obstetric care. The European Union is strongly committed to the implementation of the goals, in particular those improving maternal and child health, and promoting gender equality. In case there are unavoidable budget cuts due to the financial crisis, the European Union will do its utmost to avoid any cuts in the budgets for the promotion of Millennium Development Goal 5.
To reverse the current trend of feminization the European Union, within the context of established European Union positions has successfully led efforts to strengthen global attention and action to address gender inequality, gender-based violence and abuse as drivers of the AIDS pandemic, calling for intensified efforts to safeguard women’s and girls’ rights, develop effective HIV and AIDS policy programmes and services for women and girls, including those related to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHRs) within the context of established EU positions, and to support the full involvement of women in planning and decision making related to HIV strategies and programmes. We are committed to work collectively and individually to support partner countries in implementing strategies for gender equality, women’s rights and empowerment and approaches which are effective for women and girls in response to the AIDS pandemic. The European Union affirms our strong support for and commitment to the full implementation of the Cairo Programme of Action, as well as the key actions for the further implementation of the ICPD programme of Action agreed at ICPD+5, and the Copenhagen Declaration and Action Programme.
A key determinant to achieve health-related goals is strengthening health systems, and in this regard we welcome the recent resolution of the World Health Assembly on ‘Primary health care, including health systems strengthening’. Putting into place equitable, accessible, efficient and sustainable health systems, especially in developing countries, is a major and urgent challenge and, therefore, we have in cooperation with World Health Organisation to define the main components of such systems. Major disparities in health are closely linked to the underlying differences in people’s daily living conditions. To a large extent, inequities in health are due to differences in how people live, work and age. We anticipate from the World Health Organisation a clear leadership in developing the agreed Action Plans on the main components of universal coverage, patient-centered health care and health-in-all policies.
We need to summon the political will to provide for both quality and quantity in terms of long-term resources for health. It is also important to consider the different health-related Millennium Development Goals in a coherent manner and include other challenges such as the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, which now make up 60 per cent of the global burden of disease, putting already weak and overburdened health systems in developing countries under considerable strain. Remarkably, 80 per cent of these diseases occur in low or middle income countries. The European Union supports the goal of the World Health Organisation to reduce an additional 2 % in NCD death rates around the world per year. We hope that this will prevent 36 million premature deaths by 2015, as stated by the World Health Organisation.
In order to advance global health we need to tackle the health inequities within and across countries through political commitment and improve coordination among global, national and subnational level in tackling social determinants of health through work across sectors.
The EU noted the leadership role that the World Health Organisation has played during the outbreak of influenza A (H1N1) and sees the International Health Regulations implementation as an important tool to improve global health security. The outbreak has also highlighted the need to further build and strengthen national systems for outbreak alert and response at national and international levels. Through its normative and advocacy work, through sharing its technical expertise, and through monitoring indicators and targets, the World Health Organisation is pointing the way to accelerating progress towards the health-related Millennium Development Goals.
Finally, in reaching the progress on the global health agenda, especially for women and girls, the role of the civil society and NGOs is often decisive. We have to support and further encourage their work, especially in the countries where they risk being suppressed.
* Croatia and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process