Joint Statement on SRHR in UHC

New York, 23 September 2019.

58 countries from all regions(*) joined forces for sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), gender equality and women’s rights at the UN General Assembly High-level Meeting on Universal Health coverage (UHC) bringing together 172 heads of state and government and ministers. Speaking on behalf of 58 countries, Ms Sigrid Kaag Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, delivered a strong message: sexual and reproductive health and rights are a cornerstone of UHC.  Investing in SRHR is affordable and cost-saving. Gender barriers to accessing UHC must be addressed to achieve the right to health and achieve the SDGs, to ensure universal access to SRHR, and to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and gender-based violence. Only by investing in sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, girls, adolescents and all vulnerable populations can we make UHC truly be universal.

According to Minister Kaag, the political declaration on UHC is historic as it will improve the health and well-being of millions of people around the world. The UHC schemes are designed to drastically reduce out-of-pockets health costs for those in need. They will provide access to SRHR to 4.3 billion people of reproductive age who would otherwise have no such access through their life. ‘Various national UHC programmes around the world include SRHR have demonstrated that this approach can improve affordability (…) and save lives.’ Ms. Kaag said.

The negotiations of the UHC political declaration were difficult as some governments opposed SRHR and gender equality in the high-level meeting outcome document. However, a strong alliance of countries ensured that over 25 years of agreed standards regarding women’s rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights was protected and included in the political declaration. ‘The UHC political declaration means that governments have committed to making good-quality SRHR programmes available and accessible to all, including women and girls and the most vulnerable populations, without discrimination or violence and leaving no one behind,’ Ms. Kaag added.

The 58 countries committed to the full implementation of the UHC political declaration in their own countries and abroad.

(*) Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cap Verde, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guinea, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, Peru,  Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, United Kingdom and Uruguay