Children’s HeartLink Advocates for Congenital Heart Disease Patients at the United Nations

Published July 25, 2023


Children’s HeartLink fights to ensure that access to pediatric cardiac care is considered a global health priority by institutions like the United Nations and the World Health Organization

Historically, specialty health care services, including surgeries needed to treat congenital heart disease, have not been included as essential health care in global health discussions. 

This is disheartening, because 1 in 100 children worldwide is born with congenital heart disease – about 1.35 million children each year. 90% of those children live in places that lack adequate access to care. 

By raising the profile of children with childhood-onset heart disease through advocacy efforts, we can help more children gain access to the care they need to survive and thrive. 

Children’s HeartLink advocates at the United Nations

In May of 2023, Bistra Zheleva, vice president for global advocacy and strategy at Children’s HeartLink, traveled to the United Nations in New York to advocate for United Nations Member States to consider the needs of patients with childhood-onset heart disease as they deliberate what priorities will be included in the 2030 Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda.

These advocacy efforts were done in preparation for the United Nations High Level Meeting on UHC to be held in September 2023. It is at this event that the 2030 UHC agenda will be determined.  

Children’s HeartLink, along with other members of the global health community, are working hard to influence how health care services will be prioritized in that agenda, as it will significantly impact how countries around the world prioritize access to health care for their most vulnerable populations. 

What is Universal Health Coverage? 

As defined by the World Health Organization: “Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. It covers the full continuum of essential health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.” 


Source: @UHC2030

Joining Bistra at the event in May were representatives of United Nations Member States, observers of the General Assembly, representatives of local governments, civil society organizations, other non-governmental organizations, professional associations and the private sector. 

The advocacy work continues 

The global advocacy work of Children’s HeartLink will continues as we prepare to meet with policymakers in Washington, D.C. at the World Congress of Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery and collect endorsements on the Call to Action Addressing the Global Burden of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Diseases.  

Children’s HeartLink will also continue our advocacy at the United Nations this fall with an event emphasizing the importance of investing in specialty healthcare services for patients born with birth defects, including congenital heart disease. 


About Children’s HeartLink
Children’s HeartLink saves children’s lives by transforming pediatric heart care in underserved parts of the world. The global nonprofit organization (NGO), partners medical volunteers from top teaching and research institutions with doctors, nurses and health care professionals in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Malaysia and Vietnam to develop or improve pediatric cardiac care programs. Since 1969, the organization has reached more than 1.5 million children.