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The Norwegian intervention at the High Level meeting on Universal Health Coverage at the UN General Assembly

President; 

Excellencies; 

Ladies and gentlemen;

When this Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, we made a promise to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030. Today, we meet to renew our commitmentand re-energize our efforts.

Universal Health Coverage is a beautifully simple concept; all people should have access to  the essential health care services they need - without risking entering into poverty.

To get there, we must build strong health systems – based on primary health care – that provide essential health services for everyone. At all stages of their lives. 

Achieving Universal Health Care requires work from all countries, not just a few. The impression of Norway might be that we have already achieved universal health coverage. But in the area of mental health and substance use issues, we are still coming short. In Norway, people with severe mental health issues and drug addiction on average live 20 years shorter than everyone else. The main reason is that they don't get the same health care for diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart problems. That is one of the biggest and ugliest types of inequality in Norway, and will be our challenge in reaching UHC by 2030.

When we build inclusive societies, we must meet the health needs of women and girls. In Cairo, twenty-five years ago, the world agreed to place human rights and gender equality at the center of population policy. For us, sexual and reproductive health and rights are an integral part of Universal Health Coverage. 

And if we are to leave no one behind, we must face the challenge of unreasonably high prices on medicines. Access to affordable medicines is an important element of Universal Health Coverage. In all countries. We have to ensure affordability of, and access to, both new and existing medicines. 

Norway remains a consistent partner of the UN. Tomorrow, the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Wellbeing will be launched. If we are to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, the global health actors must collaborate closely.

President; Director General Tedros is right. Universal Health Coverage is a political choice. It is a critical component of any state's social, political and economic development. For all citizens. We must leave no one behind. And the time is now. 

Thank you!

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