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Hosting the International Conference titled, “Universal Health Coverage in the New Development Era: Towards Building Resilient and Sustainable Health Systems”

December 16, 2015

1. On December 16, from 9:20 a.m. to 5:40 p.m., the International Conference titled, “Universal Health Coverage in the New Development Era: Toward Building Resilient and Sustainable Health Systems” was held, co-organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of Finance; the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare; the Japan International Cooperation Agency; and the Japan Center for International Exchange.

This conference, attended by Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, brought together national governments, international organizations, private foundations, experts, and civil society in one location to discuss the achievement and sustainment of resilient and equitable universal health coverage (UHC), and provided important input for the G7 Ise-Shima Summit (to be chaired by Japan) and TICAD VI. Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino attended the Second Session.

2. In the opening session, Prime Minister Abe emphasized that Japan would be the first to chair the G7 after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (adopted in September of 2015, United Nations General Assembly) and that TICAD VI would be held in Africa for the first time. Prime Minister Abe also expressed his intention to make health a priority issue at the G7 Ise-Shima Summit and for Japan to play a leading role in international discussions. This is also reflected in “Japan’s vision for a peaceful and healthier world,” (PDF)Open a New Window written by Prime Minister Abe and published in The Lancet. Prime Minister Abe also announced that Japan would promote efforts to respond to public health emergencies and universal health coverage, and contribute actively to strengthening health systems through the G7 Ise-Shima Summit and TICAD VI.

3. Mr. Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, delivered a keynote address at the lunch session, where he emphasized that Japan would take the lead in global health and healthcare based on the experience it had gained through its universal health insurance policy and through addressing the challenge of an aging society. Minister Shiozaki also announced his support for strengthening responses to international public health emergencies by restructuring the organizational structure of the World Health Organization (WHO).

4. At the conference, statements were also made by prominent participants, in order, such as Keizo Takemi, Member, House of Councillors; Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO; Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank; Bill Gates, Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ethiopia; James Wainaina Macharia, Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Health, Kenya; Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Minister of Public Health, Thailand; Mark Dybul, Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Seth Berkley, CEO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs.

5. The first session focused on health challenges including health systems strengthening, public health crises and newly emerging health challenges such as aging which have emerged approximately 15 years after the establishment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) against the background of the changes in demographics and disease structure. The second session discussed the need to meet these international requirements by building the foundations to enable all people in all countries to receive basic health services and the strategies for this. The third session shared a common understanding on the need to aim to achieve sustainable and equitable UHC by strengthening national health systems and to build a global system and framework to respond to public health emergencies that may occur in the future, and discussed the importance of the roles of global society and communities, mobilization of domestic financial resources, preparedness, etc., in adhering to the WHO’s International Health Regulations. In the fourth session, the need for political will from heads of state in responding to these challenges and the high hopes for the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in promoting their will was expressed.

6. Finally, Mr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief, The Lancet, summarized the discussions while expressing his gratitude to Prime Minister Abe for his commitment to the field of health and for hosting the conference. Mr. Horton stated that powerful leadership is required to achieve UHC, and that the G7 Ise-Shima Summit would be an important forum for this. Furthermore, Mr. Horton believed that the Paris Agreement adopted at COP21 also recognizes the importance of the impact of climate change on health and that UHC should be promoted by taking advantage of increased political awareness, highlighting the significance of women, ODA, and research and development in this regard. In addition, Mr. Horton cited the importance of the G7 countries playing a leading role and ensuring accountability through evaluation and monitoring.

7. Following the summary by Mr. Horton, Mr. Yasumasa Nagamine, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, expressed his gratitude to the participants, and stated Japan’s intention to capitalize on the fruitful discussions of the day for the G7 discussions on health issues.


1. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (The 2030 Agenda)
International goals for 2016-2030 adopted by the United Nations as the successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets were newly established to meet existing challenges from the MDGs (e.g. health, education), as well as new challenges (e.g. environment, rising inequality). The Agenda underwent seven rounds of intergovernmental negotiations, with effective agreement being reached in August this year, and it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September.

2. Universal health coverage (UHC)
This is the ability of all people worldwide to access and receive basic health services when they need it throughout their lifetimes at an affordable cost.

(Related links)
“Basic Design for Peace and Health,” approved by the Headquarters for Healthcare Policy on September 11 of this year.

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