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Black Tie International:
Achieving SDG 3 And Universal Health Coverage
 

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 “Achieving SDG 3 And Universal Health Coverage: Innovative Projects, Policies and Financing Models To Reach Those Left Furthest Behind.”  

 

 
 Fatima Maada Bio with Dr. Judy Kuriansky

The First Lady of Sierra Leone, Mde. Fatima Maada Bio with Dr. Judy Kuriansky, United Nations NGO representative of the International Association of Applied Psychology and Psychology Professor at Columbia University Teachers College

 

  

History has been made in health care recently when the governments at the United Nations adopted a Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage, asserting that all people have access to quality essential health services without risk of financial hardship.

The same week, during the prestigious General Assembly, an impressive event was held entitled,

 “Achieving SDG 3 And Universal Health Coverage: Innovative Projects, Policies and Financing Models To Reach Those Left Furthest Behind.”

Impressive speakers from all fields presented innovative programs, policies and financing models.

The major sponsor was the Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN supported by the Office of the First Lady. Co-sponsors represented governments from all regions of the world (UN Missions of the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Cuba, the People’s Republic of China); the major UN health agency, the World Health Organization (WHO); NGOs, the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP), the United African Congress, and the Psychology Coalition of NGOs accredited at the UN; and the private sector (Mission & Co). Speakers included Ambassadors of the Missions of Japan and of Trinidad and Tobago, a counsellor from the Portugal UN Mission; Ministers of Health and Education; UNAIDS, USAID and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the private sector, the Islamic Development Bank and Pfizer.

The moderator and lead organizer was internationally acclaimed clinical psychologist Dr. Judy Kuriansky, whose advocacy helped successfully insure mental heath being included both in the UHC Political Declaration and
the UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development’s Goal #3 on
“Health and Well-being for All.”

The event opened with a music video of an original song,
 “Honor Our Girls,” co-produced by international musician Russell Daisey
 and Dr Judy, in honor of the First Lady’s projects presented at the event.

 
 The First Lady of Sierra Leone with HE Marc-André Blanchard, Ambassador of Canada to the UN
  The First Lady of Sierra Leone with
HE Marc-André Blanchard, Ambassador of Canada to the UN
 

The First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone Mde. Fatima Maada Bio passionately described two projects:  building a hospital center, and her #HandsOffOurGirls campaign against child marriage, teen pregnancy, violence against girls, and rape. Encouraging cooperation, she reassured partners a free VISA any time to come into Sierra Leone to help.
 Her eloquence was widely praised.

The statement from the Mission of Canada affirmed that the Prime Minister has made mental health a national priority, investing 11B in mental health and home care. In more proof of commitment, Canada launched the Alliance of Champions for Mental Health and Wellbeing with the UK and Australia, and co-chairs the UN Group of Friends of Mental Health and Well-being with Bahrain, Belgium and Ecuador.

 
Deputy Executive Director of the WHO UN New York Office Werner Obermeyer with the First Lady of Sierra Leone and Dr. Judy Kuriansky; back row: Dr. Christine Roland-Levy, President, International Association of Applied Psychology

Deputy Executive Director of the WHO UN New York Office Werner Obermeyer with the First Lady of Sierra Leone and Dr. Judy Kuriansky; back row: Dr. Christine Roland-Levy, President, International Association of Applied Psychology

 
On behalf of the event co-sponsor WHO, Deputy Executive Director of the UN NY Office Werner Obermeyer confirmed WHO’s support of countries to revise their mental health policies and plans; urged the need for training caregivers and community health providers; and affirmed “There is no health without mental health,” given shocking statistics that 80% of people in low-and middle-income countries suffer without health quality or affordable mental health care.
 
(Front row): Irene Koek, USAID; Dr Judy Kuriansky, IAAP representative to the UN and Columbia University Teachers College. (Back row): H.E. Ambassador Pennelope Beckles of the Mission of Trinidad and Tobago to the UN; Ambassador Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba; H.E. Ambassador Mr. Wu Haitao, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission of the People's Republic of China to the UN; First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone; H.E. Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, United Arab Emirates; H.E. Ambassador March-André Blanchard, Mission of Canada to the UN

(Front row): Irene Koek, USAID; Dr Judy Kuriansky, IAAP representative to the UN and Columbia University Teachers College. (Back row): H.E. Ambassador Pennelope Beckles of the Mission of Trinidad and Tobago to the UN; Ambassador Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba; H.E. Ambassador Mr. Wu Haitao, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission of the People's Republic of China to the UN; First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone; H.E. Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development, United Arab Emirates; H.E. Ambassador March-André Blanchard, Mission of Canada to the UN.

 

The statement from the Mission of Canada affirmed that the Prime Minister has made mental health a national priority, investing 11B in mental health and home care. In more proof of commitment, Canada launched the Alliance of Champions for Mental Health and Wellbeing with the UK and Australia, and co-chairs the UN Group of Friends of Mental Health and Well-being with Bahrain, Belgium and Ecuador.

Ambassador Beckles, currently also President of the Executive Board of UN Women, shared her personal story of a cancer diagnosis 17 years ago, to emphasize the importance of UHC, and of expertise, technology and research in small countries, (since she had to go to the US for care, fortunately,catching the condition early).  “The wealth of a country to me is related to the health of a country,” she said.

Cuba’s Deputy Minster of Foreign Affairs Anayansi Rodriquez Camejo, former Ambassador to the United Nations, reported that healthcare in Cuba is universal and free, and that the Cuban health care force is deployed in many world crises. “Health is a human right that fully has to be implemented and respected,” she said, especially in “a world driven by selfish interest in which military expenditure is so high.

USAID’s Irene Koek described the innovative partnership in the Utkrishst (Hindi word for excellence) Development Impact Bond to reduce maternal and new-born mortality in Rajasthan, India. The UBS bank provides upfront capital for health providers, repaid by USAID and partner Merke Pharmaceuticals if certain targets are met.  Such “impact bonds” are increasingly popular
 to finance development.

 
 Her Excellency Hessa Bint Essa Buhamaid,
 Her Excellency Hessa Bint Essa Buhamaid,
 Minister of Community Development of the United Arab Emirates
 
The UAE’s Minister of Community Development Hessa Bint Essa Buhamaid noted considerable health improvements in her country, including eliminating deadly communicable diseases like polio and preventing malaria and river blindness. Also, His Highness Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, launched US$100 million for The Reaching the Last Mile Fund (RLMF) to end devastating neglected tropical diseases -- river blindness and elephantiasis -- in partnership with Bill Gates, the ALIMA philanthropies and others.
 
 H.E. Ambassador Mr. Wu Haitao, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission

 H.E. Ambassador Mr. Wu Haitao, Deputy Permanent Representative, Mission
 of the People's Republic of China to the UN

 
 China UN Ambassador Wu reported that China has set up basic medical insurance for all residents and said that, “developed countries should increase support to developing countries for health capacity building.” He added that “China and Africa are good brothers, good friends, and good partners,” citing (1) the headquarters of the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention and China-Africa Friendship Hospitals to open soon in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; (2) the China-Africa Brightness Action charitable initiative, and (3) aid sent for the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa in 2014 and currently to DRC and neighboring countries.  “China is ready to work with the UN, WHO, the international community and African friends to promote UHC and realize the mission of health for all,” he said.
 
Ambassador Toshiya Hoshino, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Japan to the UN with the First Lady of Sierra Leone
Ambassador Toshiya Hoshino, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Japan to the UN with the First Lady of Sierra Leone
 

 Ambassador Hoshino noted Japan’s commitment to health evident in (1) chairing the Group of Friends of Universal Health Coverage, missions who supported UHC; (2) introducing national health insurance system as early as 1961; (3) hosting the International Conference on Africa's Development, that the First Lady of Sierra Leone attended; (4) taking over Presidency from the country of Georgia of Innovative Financing for Development at the UN.  He emphasized the importance of mental health with physical health, nutrition and water sanitation.  

 
Pennelope Beckles
 H.E. Ambassador Pennelope Beckles of the Mission of Trinidad and Tobago
to the United Nations
 
Dr. Radheya AlHashimi
 Dr. Radheya AlHashimi, Director of Policy Impact Department,
 Strategy and Innovation Sector, United Arab Emirates. (right):
 WHO co-sponsor representative Eva Kiegele
 
   UAE’s Director of the Policy Impact Department Dr. Radheya AlHashimi, described innovative projects of the UAE, including (1) hosting the World Government Summit bringing together world leaders to share solutions for the future; (2) the “SDGs in Action” campaign with Global Councils to devise innovations to accomplish the UN Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals, with praise for the “Health in Your Hands” initiative founded by Dr. Judy Kuriansky and Dr. Shariha Khalid Erichsen to reach those at the last mile of health; (3) the upcoming Dubai Expo 2020; and (4) the UAE “Government Accelerators” initiative whereby teams devise solutions to long-standing problems within a limit of 100 days, e.g., the 15-day paperwork period after a baby’s birth was reduced to one visit, and breast cancer screening for women in remote areas was facilitated by collating all health records.
 
Jorge Castel Branco Soares, Counselor, Mission of Portugal to the UN; Dr. Radheya AlHashimi, UAE Director of the Policy Impact Department; Dr. Judy Kuriansky; Ambassador Toshiya Hoshinoof the UN Japan Mission; Ambassador Pennelope Beckles of UN Mission of Trinidad and Tobago

Jorge Castel Branco Soares, Counselor, Mission of Portugal to the UN; Dr. Radheya AlHashimi, UAE Director of the Policy Impact Department; Dr. Judy Kuriansky; Ambassador Toshiya Hoshinoof the UN Japan Mission; Ambassador Pennelope Beckles of UN Mission of Trinidad and Tobago

 
On behalf of the UN Mission of Portugal, Counselor Soares elaborated Portugal’s commitment to health and mental health, by (1) leading the UN Resolution adopted about mental health and human rights; (2) promoting the right to health, extended to migrants and refuges on equal footing to nationals; (3) supporting investment in mental health services as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights as core pillars of UHC.
 
Pradeep Kakkattil,  Director, Office of Innovations, UNAIDS
Pradeep Kakkattil,  Director, Office of Innovations, UNAIDS
 
First Lady of Sierra Leone and the Minister of Health Hon. Dr. Alpha Tejan-Wurie
First Lady of Sierra Leone and the Minister of Health Hon. Dr. Alpha Tejan-Wurie
 
Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Under Secretary-General for Partnerships, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Amine Hillal, Lead Alternative Development Finance, Islamic Development Bank Group
Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Under Secretary-General for Partnerships, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Amine Hillal, Lead Alternative Development Finance, Islamic Development Bank Group
 
  Dr. Mahmood and Amine Hillal described their unique partnership and financing in the WASH Fund, to provide clean water and sanitation, given shocking statistics that 844 million people still lack basic drinking water and 2.3 billion people lack basic sanitation, leading to millions of deaths that could be preventable. The blended finance model with Sukuk [Arabic for financial certificates] helps stem cholera and acute watery diarrheal diseases, where people are forced to use undignified ways to use the toilet in very unsafe areas.  Dr. Mahmood emphasized that such bonds need to go to low-and-middle-income countries rather than only to high-income countries.
 
Ambassador Victoria Sulimani, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN; Youth delegate Isaac Bayoh; First Lady of Sierra Leone; Finda Senesi, Counsellor, UN Mission of Sierra Leone
Ambassador Victoria Sulimani, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN; Youth delegate Isaac Bayoh;
First Lady of Sierra Leone;
Finda Senesi, Counsellor, UN Mission of Sierra Leone
 

Sierra Leone’s Youth Delegate Bayoh urged taking advantage of the resources of young people as partners in global discussions, who have passion
to transform society.

   Sierra Leone’s Administrative Assistant and Disability Coordinator at the Embassy in Washington DC, Joseph Fofanah, described the needs of disabled persons in Sierra Leone after years of civil war, the Ebola epidemic, and the tragic mudslide, including equipment like wheelchairs, and mental health counseling to deal with the traumas. 

 

First Lady of Sierra Leone, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, and H.E. Sidique Wai, Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the United States.
(back row): Ambassador Victoria Sulimani, Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN
 
Ambassador Wai expressed deep appreciation for all the innovative and compelling presentations, and called for follow-up to advance the ideas and create partnerships, to which everyone enthusiastically agreed.
 
Mariam Jashi, Chairperson of the Education, Science, and Cultural Committee of the Parliament of Georgia
Mariam Jashi, Chairperson of the Education, Science, and Cultural Committee
of the Parliament of Georgia
 
   Representing the country of Georgia, that notably with Thailand drafted the historic Political Declaration for Universal Health Coverage, Mariam Jashi described how Georgia had launched its flagship UHC program in 2013, investing 3.0% of GDP, proving that “even with limited resources, any country can make a difference if you maximize financial investment in the health sector.” Also, Georgia significantly eliminated Hepatitis C (with support of the US government and GILEAD providing free drugs) and made significant advances in immunization of HIV, TB and malaria. Georgia also served as President of the Leading Group on Innovative Financing (passed on to Japan), with a forum last year in Tbilisi. Innovative health financing projects she described involved contributions from airline tickets, hotel checkout bills, monthly salaries and ticket purchases (for theater, movies or festivals), and purchases for products by companies like Nike, Starbucks, Gap, Hallmark and others (in a project co-designed by U2 frontman and activist Bono).
 
Minister Alpha Osman Timbo, Sierra Leone Minister of Education

 Minister Alpha Osman Timbo, Sierra Leone Minister of Education

 
  The Sierra Leone Education Minster Hon. Alpha Timbo connected education to health, saying, “You cannot read when you are not healthy,” adding, “That is why health is an integral part of the human capital development program of the President of Sierra Leone.”
 
Dr. Mark Johnson, Chair, Howard University School of Medicine Department of Community and Family Medicine and Co-chair of the First Lady of Sierra Leone Mde. Fatima Maada Bio Medical Center and Research Group, USA and Medical Center Project for the Mano River Union; Co-chair Dr. Alper Tunga Demirarslan, Assistant Professor, Istanbul Okan University, Turkey; H.E. Sidique Wai, Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the United States; Dr. Judy Kuriansky; Mine Anlar, owner, World of Travel, Inc.; H.E. Francis Mustapha Kaikai, Sierra Leone Minister of Planning and Economic Development
Dr. Mark Johnson, Chair, Howard University School of Medicine Department of Community and Family Medicine and Co-chair of the First Lady of Sierra Leone Mde. Fatima Maada Bio Medical Center and Research Group, USA and Medical Center Project for the Mano River Union; Co-chair Dr. Alper Tunga Demirarslan, Assistant Professor, Istanbul Okan University, Turkey; H.E. Sidique Wai, Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the United States; Dr. Judy Kuriansky; Mine Anlar, owner, World of Travel, Inc.; H.E. Francis Mustapha Kaikai, Sierra Leone Minister of Planning and Economic Development
 
Two doctors are helping Sierra Leone build the proposed new medical facility for Sierra Leone and the Mano River.  Dr. Tunga from Turkey is in charge of logistics and financing for the four hospitals, planned to address priority needs of women and children, infectious diseases, cardiology and oncology. Co-chair Dr. Mark Johnson of Howard University School of Medicine in the USA is handling training of projected staff, including community health workers. A focus is on public health issues of infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, clean water, malaria, immunizations, teen pregnancy, Ebola, and mental health.
 
Dr. Shariha Khalid Erichsen, Managing Partner, Mission & Co; member, Global Council 3, SDGs in Action; and co-founder, “Health in Your Hands Initiative” 
Dr. Shariha Khalid Erichsen, Managing Partner, Mission & Co; member, Global Council 3, SDGs in Action; and co-founder, “Health in Your Hands Initiative” 
 
Dr. Erichsen described how she and Dr. Judy Kuriansky came together in the “SDGs in Action” lab described by the UAE’s Dr. Radheya AlHashimi, to create the innovative solution for SDG 3 called “Health in Your Hands,” a platform of projects to reach the last mile and leave no one behind. This innovation is significant, given staggering statistics, that over half of the world’s population, including a billion people in remote rural communities, lack access to essential health services, and that there is an estimated shortage of 18 million health care workers. See: Healthinyourhands.co
 
Dr. Ruth Ngech, Deputy Country Director of Living Goods in Kenya
Dr. Ruth Ngech, Deputy Country Director of Living Goods in Kenya
 
   Living Goods supports community health workers in Kenya, Uganda, and starting in Sierra Leone, through technology, by providing live data to workers to follow their assignments through their cell phone, and tablets to supervisors to track workers and accurate diagnoses in the field.
 
Chris Grey, Senior Director, Global Health and Patient Access team, Pfizer, New York with Dr. Claire Brolan, Center for Policy Futures, University of Queensland, Australia, and member of the Finance Cluster of the “SDGS in Action” initiative
Chris Grey, Senior Director, Global Health and Patient Access team, Pfizer, New York with Dr. Claire Brolan, Center for Policy Futures, University of Queensland, Australia, and member of the Finance Cluster of the “SDGS in Action” initiative
 

   Pfizer’s Chris Grey read the statement from the UHC Private Sector Constituency, outlining seven contributions to UHC from the for-profit health-related private sector and businesses. These include to offer quality products, help strengthen the health workforce, and fundraise.

     Dr. Brolan outlined three key messages about financing the SDGs and SDG 3: (1) Shift wording from talking about “financing” SDG 3 or UHC, to talking about “investing in the health and wellbeing of the invisible men, women, and children being left behind”; (2) Provide seed funding for wonderful health innovations in low, middle, and high income countries, since small amounts of money can go a long way; and (3) Partner with universities that can do research to provide data and evidence, and can write grants. 

 

 
Tamar Tchelidze, Counselor in the UN Mission of Georgia that co-drafted the UHC Political Declaration; Cuba Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Camejo; Japan UN Mission Ambassador Toshiya Hoshino; Dr. Judy Kuriansky; UAE Minister of Community Development Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid; and WHO co-organizer Eva Kiegele
Tamar Tchelidze, Counselor in the UN Mission of Georgia that co-drafted the UHC Political Declaration; Cuba Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Camejo; Japan UN Mission Ambassador Toshiya Hoshino; Dr. Judy Kuriansky; UAE Minister of Community Development Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid;
and WHO co-organizer Eva Kiegele
 
 The Ebola Coalition:  Chair Gordon Tapper, President, United African Congress (UAC); Communications Chair and NY liaison Friends of the Congo Bibi Ndala; the UAC’s Dr. Michael Cole and Dr. Mohammed Nurhussein; HaltEbola’s Pastor Dr. Kaserka Kasomo; Jacques Vithi; and Dr. Judy Kuriansky

 The Ebola Coalition:  Chair Gordon Tapper, President, United African Congress (UAC); Communications Chair and NY liaison Friends of the Congo Bibi Ndala; the UAC’s Dr. Michael Cole and Dr. Mohammed Nurhussein;
HaltEbola’s Pastor Dr. Kaserka Kasomo; Jacques Vithi; and Dr. Judy Kuriansky

 
The Ebola Coalition, a group of experts from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the USA, described plans for innovative and comprehensive training workshops to address three aspects of the Ebola outbreak in the DRC: psychosocial support (to build resilience); risk communication (to combat myths that Ebola is not real); and community engagement (to eradicate stigma). The team has been invited by the faith community in the worst-affected region. The intervention builds on the team’s previous successful help and awareness-raising during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
 
Dr. Mohammed Nurhussein, Board member, Ethio-American Doctors Group, Inc., Professor emeritus of medicine, SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Chairman of the United African Congress
Dr. Mohammed Nurhussein, Board member, Ethio-American Doctors Group, Inc., Professor emeritus of medicine, SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Chairman of the United African Congress
 
Dr. Nurhussein described the Ethio-American Doctors Group project, building a for-profit medical center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Initial funding was provided from the doctors’ personal funds. The focus is on six areas: neurology, cardiology, orthopedics, oncology; trauma services, and maternal and child services. 150,000 square meters of land was purchased and ground was broken, aiming for operation in 2021. 
 
Lucy Fagan, Global Focal Point for the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, and Chair, Commonwealth Youth Health Network 
Lucy Fagan, Global Focal Point for the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, and Chair, Commonwealth Youth Health Network 
 
As the health representative of the UN Major Group for Children and Youth, Lucy Fagan described the successful journey towards UHC from the UN Agenda2030 negotiations in New York in 2015, to the Astana Declaration last year about primary health care, and integrating mental health, to returning to New York now for adoption of the UHC Political Declaration.  Action is now needed, that requires political will, innovation, and partnerships. Young people can play a major role in technology and digital innovations, and also in policy.
 
Russell Daisey, International musician, co-producer of the “Honor Our Girls” music video shown at event, and IAAP UN NGO Representative, Dr. Judy Kuriansky; Dr. Christine Roland-Levy, President, International Association of Applied Psychology
Russell Daisey, International musician, co-producer of the “Honor Our Girls” music video shown at event, and IAAP UN NGO Representative, Dr. Judy Kuriansky; Dr. Christine Roland-Levy, President, International Association of Applied Psychology
 
Graduate students of Dr. Judy Kuriansky in class on “Psychology and the United Nations” at Columbia University Teachers College Jiawen Long, Ziyuan Zhang and Shenyun Chen with China Ambassador to the UN Wu Haitao
Graduate students of Dr. Judy Kuriansky in class on “Psychology and the United Nations” at Columbia University Teachers College Jiawen Long, Ziyuan Zhang and Shenyun Chen with China Ambassador to the UN Wu Haitao
 
Student assistants at the event, including from Dr. Judy’s “Psychology and the United Nations” class. (Front): Bibi Ndala, Dr. Judy, Alia Khizer. (Back row): Melissa Rojas, Gabrielle Gravely, UN Major Group for Children and Youth representative Lucy Fagan, Maram Alqassab from NYU graduate school, Sitara Maria
 
 

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