15 December 2016, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States at the 71st United Nations General Assembly on Item 127: Global health and foreign policy
Mr President, Excellences, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its member states.
We welcome this year’s resolution on “Health Employment and Economic Growth”. We would like to thank South Africa for its excellent facilitation and the Oslo Group in Geneva for providing a well-balanced draft for our negotiations.
Strong health systems are a pre-condition for sustainable development. Investment in health improves growth sustainability. Most returns on health interventions have the same characteristics as long-term investments. It is high time we take this into account when we calculate GDP and undertake macroeconomic analysis. Investing in health for growth is a priority for the European Union and its Member states, with the aim of securing healthy lives for all – it should not be viewed as a cost but rather as an investment in a critical area to promote poverty reduction and economic growth.
In the European Union we strive to guarantee equitable access to good quality healthcare provided by well-trained health workers, wherever they live and whatever their status and to increase significantly the numbers of health worked trained by 2030 and ensure their equitable distribution. The rising global demand and need for health workers, over the next fifteen years, presents a significant challenge. However, it also offers the opportunity to generate employment, in areas where decent jobs are most needed. We fully support the report from the Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth; its ten recommendations and the call for urgent action to invest in the health workforce, both now and in the future. These recommendations will serve to reinforce European and global actions to transform and scale-up the education and training of our health workforce and ensure they are working in safe, appropriate working conditions. We also welcome the strong political message that there are “many job opportunities in the health sector” at a time when unemployment is so high. Likewise, the report acknowledges the vital role of women in the health sector, particularly in unpaid care roles.
Through our global development programmes, and in cooperation with our international partners, we will continue to work towards implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, promoting education and training. We will invest in improving health security and in strengthening International Health Regulation cooperation, and we will put efforts towards achieving Universal Health Coverage in countries worldwide.
With regard of the mentioning of the High-level Panel on Access to Medicines, the EU and its MS take note of the contribution provided by the final Report of the Panel and of the subsequent message by the United Nations Secretary-General, which encourages all stakeholder to chart a way forward in appropriate fora to ensure access to medicines and health technologies for all who need them, wherever they are. We deeply regret the lack of nuance around the assumption for setting up the panel – that there is policy incoherence between the justifiable rights of inventors, international human rights law, trade rules and public health. We would have been in favour of a more comprehensive approach of this crucial issue and we think that the Panel could have advanced more balanced, comprehensive and workable solutions to the problem of access to health. The challenge is to strike the right balance between the need to promote and finance the research of new and better medicines for all, ensuring that medicines are accessible and affordable to those in need, while guaranteeing the sustainability of health systems.
We believe that these goals are not contradictory and must be pursued jointly. Regarding possible next steps, it is important to recall that this Report is merely a contribution for the global discussion of a complex issue, which is addressed in several multilateral bodies. In this regard, we are waiting for the forthcoming OECD report on access to innovative medicines and sustainability of pharmaceutical spending Given our concerns, shared by many other members, we consider that any future activities at the UN level in this area be conducted on the basis of a much broader understanding of the complex issues involved. This report would not constitute a basis for future work of a consensual nature in this area.
| Top |