Supported by Thailand and Japan, Kazakhstan Makes a Strong Pitch for Universal Healthcare in New York

By Manik Mehta

New York, Feb 22 (NNN-BERNAMA) — As a country that has been leading the call for universal healthcare since the late 1990s, Kazakhstan made a strong pitch for universal healthcare in New York, holding an “interactive dialogue” on primary healthcare at its permanent mission to the United Nations on Thursday.

Yelzhan Birtanov, Kazakhstan’s Minister for Healthcare, who is visiting New York, delivered the keynote address on healthcare here Thursday, followed by speeches by Ambassador Vitavas Srivih, the newly arrived Thai permanent representative, and Toshiya Hoshino, Japan’s deputy permanent representative, who acknowledged Kazakhstan’s leadership role in pushing universal healthcare at the United Nations.

Birtanov linked the UN’s social development goals (SDGs) – particularly SDG-3 – which emphasizes the importance of providing healthcare to the common people.

“SDG-3 calls for looking after the health of the people. Through health coverage, we can contribute to achieving this SDG,” Burtanov said, adding that people suffered more in terms of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, etc. than communicable diseases.

The minister also emphasized the importance of digital technology in promoting healthcare. This had also been highlighted at the Global Conference on Primary Healthcare, held in Astana, Kazakhstan, October 25-26, 2018.

The conference, which the minister said had attracted more than 2,000 delegates and over 50 ministers and deputy ministers from around the world, also showed that “people don’t just want to be passive on getting treatmentbut want to be active and participate in the treatment”.

Thailand’s permanent representative Srivihor traced the genesis of healthcare to a UN resolution passed on the healthcare issue.  The envoy described the resolution as an “important milestone and the bedrock of sustainable development”.  But he also spoke of the challenges. “Besides the problem of getting access, millions of people face financial constraints.  “There can be no meaningful changes without having an unwavering political commitment to healthcare,” he said.

Hoshino said the interactive dialogue on healthcare was important in the run-up to the UN General Assembly which kicks off in September.

Nana Menabde, the executive director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), who also moderated the panel discussion, said that promoting healthcare had been a political agenda for Kazakhstan and other countries.

“Indeed, primary healthcare should be treated as a human rights issue. Take the case of Ebola whose outbreak afflicted millions of people. With precaution and advance information, this could have been averted,” she said.

Asked if the much-touted South-South cooperation, in context of healthcare, was actively pushed, she told Bernama that the South-South cooperation is very much there.  “In fact, we are having a conference India soon on the subject … “ she said.

The WHO, she explained, operated in a trilateral framework whenever it got involved in exchanges between two or more countries engaged in dialogue and interaction on healthcare issues.

–NNN-BERNAMA