The Political Declaration from the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage: Moving Together to Build a Healthier World (2019) provided important reaffirmation of health as a precondition for sustainable development and equity, as well as of the role for primary care as a cornerstone of universal health coverage. Health promotion, prevention and sustainable healthcare go hand in glove. Health promotion can enable more effective use of health resources by reducing demand for expensive health services and reducing hospital admissions. Promoting mental and physical health, and addressing health literacy and the social determinants of health, enables governments and departments of health to (i) empower citizens and communities to take control of their health, and (ii) better support innovative and financially sustainable healthcare. Without the bedrock underpinning of effective health promotion, treasuries and health systems will struggle to meet the rising costs and burden of ill health.