Universal Health Coverage High Level Meeting, United Nations, New York

  • Hon Aupito William Sio
Pacific Peoples

Your Excellencies, good afternoon, tēnā koutou, warm Pacific greetings for you all.

I thank you for this opportunity to reaffirm Aotearoa New Zealand’s commitment to universal health coverage.

New Zealand believes firmly in the objectives of today’s event, the acceleration of progress towards achieving universal health coverage to build a healthier world for all.

New Zealand welcomes the Declaration on Universal Health Coverage adopted today, which acknowledges that all elements of healthcare are critical including those related to sexual and reproductive health. Sexual and reproductive health and rights are integral to universal health coverage and are critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Sexual and reproductive health services need to be of good quality, readily available, accessible to everyone, and free of stigma, discrimination, coercion and violence.

Investing in comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services in universal healthcare is necessary to address the needs of women, girls, adolescents, and people in marginalised and vulnerable situations who need these services the most.

We in New Zealand understand the value and importance of the ambitious objectives captured in the document and we look forward to working with other member states to implement the Declaration.

We are proud of our, New Zealand’s, strong public health and disability system. However, we have avoidable, unfair and unjust differences in health and wellbeing outcomes for some of our people, in particular Maori and Pacific peoples. Therefore, improving health equity and ensuring the health system delivers for all New Zealanders is a top priority for New Zealand.

We acknowledge that a strong primary healthcare system is the foundation of universal health coverage. Access to primary community maternal and oral health is free for all children in our country.

We have also made changes to improve access in choice in primary mental healthcare, an important component of universal health coverage. Our investment in mental health and addiction has been scaled up in response to recommendations from our inquiry into mental health and addiction that charts a new direction for mental health and addiction in New Zealand. This significant and sustained investment over the next five years spans a range of portfolios, including health, education, corrections, justice and housing.

We acknowledge that while New Zealand is a high income country with a strong health and disability system, we also face the same challenges of achieving universal health coverage for all, as in many other countries. This is why it is important that all nations and people work today to find a solution to the common challenges we share, and build a healthier world where no one is left behind.

No reira, tēnā koutou katoa. Thank you for listening.