New high-level support for universal health coverage

By Paul Stephens 11 April 2014

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former managing director for the bank who now serves as Nigeria's finance minister and coordinating minister for the economy, attend an event on universal health coverage during the 2014 World Bank spring meetings in Washington. Photo by: World Bank Photo Collection / CC BY-NC-ND

World Bank President Jim Kim convened an impressive panel on the sidelines of the bank’s spring meetings on Friday to lend their voices to the growing chorus of support for a global goal for universal health coverage by 2030.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala were among those who, on Friday, discussed the importance of including a universal health coverage goal in the global development framework that is currently being drafted by world leaders.

Larry Summers, the former president of Harvard and an economic advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama, was perhaps the most unlikely member of the group. But his presence underscored a central message of the gathering: that investments in health care pay off big time for economies, developed or developing.

His message for finance ministers around the world was that the argument for universal health coverage is firmly rooted in economics, and that it is more affordable and more effective than they may think.

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About the author

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Paul Stephens

Paul Stephens is a Devex staff writer based in Washington, D.C. His coverage focuses on Latin America and World Bank affairs, as well as Washington's global development scene. As a multimedia journalist, editor and producer, Paul has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Washington Monthly, CBS Evening News, GlobalPost and the United Nations magazine, among other outlets. He's won a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for a 5-month, in-depth reporting project in Yemen after two stints in Georgia - one as a Peace Corps volunteer and another as a communications coordinator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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