Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Asia and the Pacific
- Project Name: Asian Development Bank–Japan International Cooperation Agency Meeting on Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Asia and the Pacific
- Region/Country: Japan
- Sector and Themes: Health
- Year: 2019
- Project Leaders: Takehiko Nakao and Kitaoka Shinichi
Sharing all of our experiences and lessons, whether successful or unsuccessful, is one of our responsibilities in this region to advance UHC.
Asia and the Pacific, home to more than half of the world’s population, continues to face barriers to achieving universal health coverage (UHC)—that is, equitable access to quality Health Care without undue financial burden. These include communicable diseases, aging, and income disparity between the rich and the poor. Artemisinin-resistant malaria is a continuing challenge in the region. Other communicable diseases also do not respect national borders. A few countries still experience wild poliovirus transmission. The working-age population in Asia and the Pacific also continues to shrink as populations undergo drastic aging. The burden of noncommunicable diseases has become more serious because elderly populations are more susceptible to illness. Income disparities between the rich and the poor have also been aggravated by the disproportionate financial burden of ill-health on poor families.
Achieving UHC contributes to equitable economic growth while stabilizing societies and making them more climate resilient. In support of this, ADB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) organized a meeting during the G20 Summit to jointly agree on concrete outcomes for UHC, keeping a climate-resilient lens.
Knowledge products and services delivered
The TA supported the ADB–JICA joint summit on 13 February 2019 in Tokyo that also served as an input to the G20 Summit in Osaka in June 2019. The meeting came to some important conclusions. While domestic financing was identified as the primary revenue source for UHC, it must be complemented by innovative financing solutions. Blended financing (combining loans, grants, and TA) could fast-track progress toward UHC. The meeting participants called for collaborative efforts across stakeholders, including WHO, the Global Fund, GAVI (Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance), multilateral development banks, ministries of finance and health, and international and local NGOs.
Impact and results
The event enabled participants to discover new approaches for sustainable health financing to ensure UHC. It provided fresh perspectives on financing to achieve UHC as part of the SDG agenda. It also strengthened the ADB–JICA partnership and reinforced the joint MOU that was signed in May 2017 to establish a strategic partnership to strengthen health security and promote UHC in a rapidly aging Asia and Pacific region. The meeting provided vital inputs for the G20 Summit in Osaka, which took UHC as a major theme.
Lessons for Replication
As countries continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, achieving UHC plays a vital role in recovery and in building communities that are resilient to future health risks. The current crisis presents an opportunity to take stock of ADB’s own programs, and joint initiatives to promote UHC. Similar future events can examine the lessons learned from managing projects during a pandemic, especially the role that ADB can play when collaborating with development partners.