Doctors of the World Statement for the High-Level Political Forum on SDGs 2023 - Doctors of the World

Doctors of the World Statement for the High-Level Political Forum on SDGs 2023

From the 10th to the 19th of July, the ECOSOC High Level Political Forum is taking place in New York. In this year’s HLPF, government representatives will discuss the theme: “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels” 39 countries will present their voluntary national reviews.

As for many of the other SDGs, there have been setbacks in the third goal “Ensure health lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” due to the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the targets under SDG 3 is to reach Universal Health Coverage. Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is achieved when all people can receive the good-quality health services they need without facing financial hardship from having to pay for them. The SDG monitoring report states: “since the pandemic has led to significant disruptions in essential health services, the continuous progress made over the last two decades has likely come to a halt.”

By working directly with marginalized people who lack access to health services, MdM witnesses the social, economic and political determinants that shape people’s health. We see that privatization of the health sector often has detrimental effects on health.

We also witness that many marginalized communities are denied access to healthcare. This is also the case in countries which have formally declared achievement of UHC. Groups excluded vary, but often include poor and rural communities, women and girls,
migrants and refugees, people using drugs and prisoners.

In September, a High-Level Meeting on UHC will take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The meeting will serve to review progress made since 2019 when States committed on key objectives to reach UHC worldwide by 2030.

Based on our experience and the setbacks in achieving SDG in the past years, we call on Heads of State to agree on bold steps at the High-Level Meeting. They must:


  • Reaffirm the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health for everyone and the state obligation to ensure healthy living and working conditions as well as access to necessary health services as laid down in the UN Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. States have the obligation to oversee and regulate the private health sector and ensure affordable access to medicines.
  • Reaffirm the Alma Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care with its three key pillars:
    • Needs-based integrated health services throughout people’s life.
    • Addressing the broader determinants of health through multisectoral policy and action
    • Empowering individuals, families and communities
  • Reaffirm to “leave no one behind”: provide full access and special support to vulnerable groups and protect them from discrimination.
  • Ensure that the entire range of sexual and reproductive health and rights is an integral part of UHC.
  • Improve the availability and use of disaggregated data on health status and access to services.
  • Include affected communities in planning, implementation, and monitoring for
    equitable access to health.


It is now even more important to “build back fairer” health systems and strive for our common vision of health for all.