-14 December 2015- In Kenya it coincided with the Independence Day which also falls on 12 December; however over 700 organizations in 116 countries marked the second annual Universal Health Coverage Day initiated by Rockefeller Foundation.

Global leaders were urged to ensure that all people can access essential health services without facing financial hardship. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has established a High Level Panel on Access to Medicines to ensure access to medicines is improved worldwide.

“When The Rockefeller Foundation first began its work to advance universal health coverage, it seemed to be a pipe-dream, today, we are truly inspired to see how rapidly support for universal health coverage has grown, including its recent recognition in the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation.

“Universal health coverage is key to building resilient health systems that make both people and planet healthier in the face the increasingly common shocks and stresses posed by climate change, urbanization, and globalization,” she added.

According to said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization,“universal health coverage is one of the most powerful social equalizers among all policy options and the global community has recognized this approach as a pro-poor pillar of sustainable development that builds social cohesion and stability – valued assets for every country.”

“Governments have everything to gain when they prioritize human health – it is an investment. I am hopeful for global progress because universal health coverage has been included in the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda’s health minister.

According to The Rockefeller Foundation universal health coverage is a smart investment that policymakers need to prioritize as an essential pillar to sustainable development and over 300 leading economists from 44 nations have added their names to the Declaration, including the current and former World Bank chief economists and five Nobel Laureates.

The WHO and World Bank’s first global monitoring report on universal health coverage released in June 2015 found that 400 million people lack access to essential health services and 17% of people in low- and middle-income countries are pushed into poverty because of health spending.

“As the gap between rich and poor keeps growing and part-time jobs become more common, we must strengthen the social safety net with universal health coverage which gives essential protection and needs,” said  Prof Joseph Stiglitz, of Columbia University.