The European Development Fund, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), plans to support African, Caribbean and Pacific countries by strengthening their regional health systems, dealing mainly with non-communicable diseases and health security. “Universal health coverage is definitely our top priority,” said Tedros Adhanom, WHO Director-General, after signing a financial bill that aims at providing universal health coverage by 2030. “Our vision is to see 1 billion more people benefiting from health coverage in between now and 2023,” continued Adhanom.
At the same time, Universal Health Coverage does not mean providing free health services, it rather aims to present safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all, as stated in the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 3. “We will not reach our objectives on SDG3, just by tackling specific diseases, we need a more comprehensive outlook and making sure that overall health system gets the financing it needs,” said Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation.
Non-communicable diseases are responsible for 71% of global deaths, which is around 40 million per year. In the past, the EU and WHO partnership saved many lives. For example, in the period between 2013-2017, around 13 million children were fully vaccinated, 57 million women gained access to contraception, or 11 million people were provided with life-saving treatment for HIV. The Universal Health Coverage project is about to cost €123 million, with the EU donating €118 million.