Former Secretary of Health of Mexico Julio Frenk, who is currently dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, said today that universal health coverage is far more than a fashionable trend; it is a global imperative.
Frenk was presented with the 2013 Abraham Horwitz Award for Excellence in Public Health Leadership, sponsored by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF). In receiving the award, he said that universal access to health services with financial protection “is a desirable goal and a means of making the Americas more just, stable and prosperous region.”
“Only by strengthening health systems and social protection will we be able to overcome the triple burden [of disease] that our countries are facing,” he said. He called for a “paradigm change,” in which “health is no longer viewed as a service that is delivered but rather as a basic right, which makes it universal.”
Frenk said the Americas have historically been a source of innovation that has enriched international discussions and national policies. “PAHO has a fundamental role to play,” he said. “It has the prestige derived from the achievements of its 100 years of life, close relations with the region’s ministers of health, links with other multilateral organizations, and interaction with civil society organizations and academic centers of excellence.”