Estonia joins 56 countries in UN high-level womens' health meeting ({{commentsTotal}})

World Health Organization logo.
World Health Organization logo. Source: WHO

Estonia joined 56 other nations in a high-level World Health Organization (WHO) meeting on health, which included statements on access to health services connected with women's and girls' sexual health and reproductive rights, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.

The meeting took place on Monday, during the UN's General Assembly running this week, which has brought President Kersti Kaljulaid, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre), foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) and others to New York. WHO is a UN organization.

The focus on women's and girls' sexual health was initiated by the Netherlands, and the 57 participating nations made separate statements on the issues.

"Reproductive health services covering childbirth, pregnancy, and women's and girls' health as a whole are important to Estonia both nationally and in our development policy," foreign ministry spokesperson Karin Volmer told ERR.

"One fifth of women's deaths worldwide are related to pregnancy and childbirth," Volmer added, noting in comparison that in Estonia, five women died between 2008 and 2018 as a result of childbirth complications.

"More than 60 percent of women and girls in the world have to pay for reproductive health care themselves. In Estonia, the state provides health insurance to all pregnant women, and there is health insurance for minors, students and working women," Volmer added.

WHO aims for universal health care for all

The meeting, 'Universal Health Coverage: Moving Together to Build a Healthier World', brought together heads of state, political and health leaders, policy-makers, and universal health coverage champions to advocate for health for all, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) website.

The meeting, 'Universal Health Coverage: Moving Together to Build a Healthier World', brought together heads of state, political and health leaders, policy-makers, and universal health coverage champions to advocate for health for all, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) website.

WHO adds that universal health coverage means all people having access health care needed, when and where it is needed, without facing financial hardship. Universal health coverage is one of WHO's key priorities, making up one of the Triple Billion Goals, the organization says, adding it is working with memberstates, partners and other key actors to help countries strengthen health systems for universal health coverage around the world.

The meeting's aims were to obtain financial and political commitments from countries and sustain health investments.

The Estonian government had discussed Estonia's accession to the declaration at its session last week.

From among European countries at the UN, participating nations were not joined by Poland, Hungary or Slovakia at the meeting, it is reported.

In a letter penned by the Netherlands' representatives on sexual and reproductive health, the acceding countries state that they believe that sexual and reproductive health should be a natural part of overall health care, and emphasize that investing in it is an affordable, cost-effective and cost-limiting measure. 

The letter also stated that barriers to gender-based access to health care must be tackled by directly involving women, young people and members of marginalized groups.

The United Nations agreements on the health of women and girls date back to the mid-1990s. The high level meeting was first called in 2017.

Editor: Andrew Whyte



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