Statement of Iceland at HLM on Universal Health Coverage

Fastanefnd Íslands hjá S.þ. í New York

Statement of Iceland at HLM on Universal Health Coverage

JonErlingur UHC

United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage
Statement delivered by Mr. Jón Erlingur Jónasson, Director-General, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland

23 September 2019
Mr. President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, 

Today’s High-Level Meeting plays a part in accelerating the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 3 on health. Providing universal health coverage is a crucial aspect of sustainable development and an important driver of equity. 

In June, Iceland’s Parliament approved an ambitious new Health Care Policy until 2030. The policy is evidence based and fully aligned with the SDGs in order to accelerate Iceland’s implementation of the Global Goals.

Mr. President,

Discussing prosperity for all, I would like to bring your attention to the issue of neurological disorders that affect up to a billion people worldwide, according to numbers from the WHO.  

My government continues to promote cooperation on research and raise awareness through our Geneva-based Special Envoy in the field of neurological and spinal cord injuries. According to the WHO, people with spinal cord injuries are more likely to die prematurely, and they have lower school enrolment and economic participation.

We have seen important medical breakthroughs in the field of non-communicable deceases and are optimistic that with collective efforts we can see such a breakthrough for patients suffering from spinal cord injuries.  

Finally, Mr. President, 

I also take the opportunity at this venue to highlight the importance of inclusive development through promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights. SRHR are crucial not only for women and girls’ well-being and development but for society as a whole. This is an important health issue as it concerns our future. 

Thank you.

gudlaugur thor2


I want to start by congratulating you on your good work as President of the 73rd General Assembly.

I had the pleasure of meeting your predecessor last year and among the issues we discussed was the importance of raising awareness of neurological disorders, including spinal cord injuries. Neurological disorders are among the non-communicable deceases covered in Agenda 2030 and SDG3.

According to information from the World Health Organization (WHO), neurological disorders affect up to a billion people worldwide and remain costly for societies, both rich and poor.

Read the letter

Maria Fernnanda Espinosa


I have the honor to refer to your letter dated 8 May 2019 on the importance of raising awareness of neurological disorders, including spinal cord injuries.
First, I want to commend you and Iceland's Government for your unwavering commitment to improve scientific research on such an important matter which affects communities globally.

: Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations General Assembly has been giving a determined focus on pressing global health issues with the aim to accelerate the implementation of SDG 3. Last September, for instance, at the very beginning of my mandate, I had the honor to chair the Third High-Level Meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, which recognized that neurological conditions are an important cause of morbidity and contribute to the global non-communicable disease burden.

Read the reply from Maria_Espinosa



The Minister for Foreign Affairs meets with WHO’s Director-General


gudlaugur thor3In February 2019, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson, the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Iceland, had a meeting with Tetros Adhanov Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO, about spinal cord injuries and neurological diseases. During the meeting, they agreed to increase collaboration in this field with the view of facilitating research into and database mergers of basic research in international neurology in addition to the work already done in the field of preventative medicine and rehabilitation. Anna Lilja Gunnarsdóttir, Iceland’s WHO consul, will map the next steps of the collaboration.

The meeting was to allow the Minister for Foreign Affairs to implement the resolution of the Icelandic Government as regards actions on behalf of curing spinal cord injuries from 2014.

Read Parliamentary Resolution, Icelandic, English, French.

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Postal address: Institute of Spinal Cord Injury, Iceland - ISCI,
Main office: Institute of Spinal Cord Injury, Iceland - ISCI (Mænuskaðastofnun Íslands), Nesbali 56, IS-170 Seltjarnarnes
tel +354 562 4925 / +354 897 4925 isci @