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Access & Impact
October 23, 2023
We are now at the midpoint of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) timeline, and a key takeaway of UN General Assembly (UNGA) 2023 discussions is that there is still much work to be done. The latest UN data illustrates that progress on 80% of the SDGs is lacking. But there are reasons to be optimistic, to look forward with renewed vigor, and to continue to explore opportunities to make a difference. Viatris was delighted to contribute to and participate in UNGA 2023 across all three official High-level Meetings (HLMs) on health and in several side events (read more here). Below we share some perspective of colleagues who were in attendance. Viatris looks forward to continuing to engage with our partners and global healthcare stakeholders as we collectively advance efforts to drive increased access to healthcare throughout the world.
To many, UNGA can feel distant – world leaders debating actions and future targets in closed rooms, inaccessible and removed from the daily realities of the world’s 8 billion people. Particularly in 2023, as the world reassesses its progress towards the SDGs, the conversations related to global health were at a fundamentally enormous scale: Universal Health Coverage; Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response; Ending Tuberculosis (TB). And yet being in the rooms, both in the United Nations headquarters and in meeting spaces across New York City, I was left with a different feeling. These topics are deeply personal, for everyone. Whether speaking with heads of organizations leading efforts on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and tuberculosis, or with community activists fighting for women’s ability to protect themselves and their families from HIV and malaria, or government officials trying to manage big aspirations for healthcare with tight budgets, the common thread was a genuine desire to think differently about how we can engage to meet our common goals. There was an energy around reinvigorating progress together, and to creative approaches to partnership across public sector, companies, and civil society. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to participate in UNGA 2023, particularly to have had the space for in-person connection with so many friends and colleagues working in global health, and I leave the meeting full of excitement and ideas for our next steps.
As UNGA 2023 comes to a close let’s have a moment to reflect on all that has taken place – High-level meetings, political declarations, panels, demonstrations, events, negotiations, discussions, receptions, summits, decisions, dinners – reportedly the largest UNGA in the past 10 years. It has been my honor to represent Viatris in many events this week including the UN High-level meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response as well as the WHO Ministerial Consultation on Timely and Equitable Access to Medical Countermeasures against Pandemic Threats. The world’s leaders have come together in the spirit of true multi-stakeholder collaboration – everyone’s perspectives thoughtfully considered in all discussions - and we are there. However, the voices around the table were those lucky enough to be there and empowered to make themselves heard. Equity has been key in all aspects – as it needs to be – but talking about equity in access to healthcare is not enough. Our health is so very personal to each of us and those we love. One size does not fit all and we cannot overlook the lived experiences of all people no matter where they may be. But how do we get these voices around the table leaving no one behind? There are no simple solutions and the goals that we, the world, have set for ourselves are tough. As a global community we need to be challenged and together we can be inspired to learn and build new and innovative approaches that are scalable. Now that we are leaving New York our jobs are not finished. There is much to be done and I am proud to be a part of the Viatris team, committed to building sustainable solutions for access to healthcare that reach everyone.
UNGA 2023 marked a pivotal time for the global ambitions for more sustainable and inclusive development. The absolute urgency for actions to accelerate the truly essential progress on the global sustainable development agenda for 2030 was the most consistent appeal from everyone. As we are halfway there in time but far away in progress with significant gaps to close related to access equity, global health and climate change goals, the feeling that the TIME is NOW truly stayed with me. The calls for partnerships, the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration, the imperative of people at the center and local community participation for effective implementation were loud and clear. And while civil society and private sector are key enablers, the crucial role of global and local political will was underscored many times. The challenges may appear daunting, and the rhetoric may be familiar, but when chatting with people who have dedicated themselves to eradicating HIV, building smarter healthcare delivery systems or finding ways to build smarter, more affordable and sustainable infrastructure – they have experienced progress, sometimes small but mighty changes and they were hopeful. Therefore, so am I.
It was energizing to hear voices from the public and private sectors coming together during UNGA 2023 in New York City to address top of mind health issues. I had the privilege of meeting with a number of government and global health leaders to talk about important issues, many of which focused on access to medicines, including accessible learning for the healthcare workforce. We discussed many initiatives including NCD Academy, which has the potential to reach more than 100 million patients by 2025 through Health Care Professional (HCP) outreach, and how the private sector can effectively contribute to help bridge the education gap. These efforts by Viatris and our partners have a direct impact on upskilling and education and have the halo effect of helping to tackle the larger elements of worker shortage and burnout, as well as the potential to increase healthcare workforce resilience. There was general agreement that without a stable healthcare workforce in countries and localities, countries will not be able to meet the needs of their populations. Whether we are discussing NCDs, TB, pandemic preparedness, self-care or other issues, one thing was clear: no one can do it alone. We need to bring our collective expertise fueled by our passion and commitment to achieve the SDGs to help the world to be a healthier place now and for generations to come.