Dr. Drew delivered an address on behalf of the fourteen Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), emphasizing the critical importance of universal access to health care and its impact on global well-being.
“Four years ago, we committed to moving together to build a healthier world through universal health coverage.
“Sadly, at the current pace of progress, up to one-third of the world’s population will remain underserved by 2030, and there has been minimal or no progress on service coverage since 2019, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Prime Minister Drew added, “Non-communicable diseases account for 74% of all deaths worldwide, and universal health coverage cannot be fully realised until NCD prevention and control are addressed, globally, in a comprehensive manner.
“CARICOM, as a region with a high non-communicable disease burden, continues to prioritize primary and specialized health services for the prevention, screening, treatment, and control of NCDs, including risk factor reduction and prevention, in its health policies. We will continue to champion this cause.”
In his statement, he highlighted the urgent need for collective action to ensure access to essential health services for all, particularly in light of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is a fact that ill health can be both a cause and a consequence of poverty. This is the reality. We are deeply concerned that 4.4% of the global population in 2019 was pushed further into extreme poverty due to out-of-pocket health expenses.
“It is likely that this number substantially increased during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. We must ensure that the realization of the right of everyone, especially the poor and vulnerable, to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, without financial hardship”, said Dr. Drew.
The High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage serves as a platform for shaping the future of healthcare delivery in the CARICOM region.