Special Olympics and leading Universal Health advocates including First Spouses, representatives from NGOs, academic institutions and the United Nations, joined a panel discussion event during the 74th United Nations General Assembly earlier this week. Co-sponsored by the governments of the Philippines and Qatar, UNICEF, Special Olympics, the H&M Foundation and Autism Speaks, the event highlighted the critical need for inclusive health for children and persons with disabilities, those who are the missing billion in universal health coverage.
Currently, the global health community is working toward two, ambitious goals for 2030: (1) the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, and (2) the World Health Organization’s target to ensure one billion more people benefit from Universal Health Care (UHC), where they are protected from health emergencies and enjoying better health and well-being. During the panel discussion, universal health advocates discussed new initiatives on improving the health of children with developmental delays and disabilities and called for strengthening accountability mechanisms to ensure this population is not left behind.
“I’m here to bring forth a new commitment to not only a goal but an urgent need that the world has been facing and now formally addressing—the need for universal health coverage, “ said David Evangelista, President & Managing Director, Special Olympics Europe Eurasia. “Universal means we will invest in doctor training, innovate the medical community and make it accessible to everyone. Stigma must be history.”
Special Olympics Health has been championing inclusive health for the last twenty years. Since 2012, through the support of the Golisano Foundation, Special Olympics has been able to transform and expand the way it approaches health as an organization and in the community and will continue, together, to ensure people with intellectual disabilities (ID) can attain the same level of good health as people without ID.