Universal Health Coverage: Reorienting health systems to primary health care
Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is the goal of ensuring that all people have access to the health services they need, without suffering financial hardship. Achieving UHC requires a reorientation of health systems towards primary health care (PHC), which is the first point of contact for people with health concerns and is delivered through a comprehensive and integrated approach. A strong PHC system is essential for ensuring that people can access the health services they need, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic status.
In the context of global health emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, a PHC-oriented health system is critical for building global solidarity and responding effectively to the crisis. PHC can provide essential health services, including preventive care, diagnosis, treatment, and referral to higher levels of care when needed. It also plays a crucial role in surveillance, outbreak detection, and response, which are key components of the global health security agenda.
To achieve UHC and reorient health systems towards PHC, it is necessary to focus on four key areas:
Health Financing: Countries need to increase public financing for health and ensure that it is spent on essential health services, with a particular emphasis on primary health care. This requires innovative financing mechanisms and stronger partnerships between governments, civil society, and the private sector.
Health Workforce: Countries need to invest in the education, training, and retention of health workers, with a particular focus on strengthening the PHC workforce. This requires improving working conditions, providing adequate remuneration, and ensuring that health workers are deployed where they are most needed.
Service Delivery: Countries need to strengthen PHC services by ensuring that they are accessible, affordable, and of high quality. This requires the implementation of a comprehensive and integrated approach to service delivery, including preventive and curative care, as well as health promotion and disease prevention.
Health Information Systems: Countries need to strengthen health information systems to enable better monitoring, evaluation, and decision-making. This requires the collection, analysis, and dissemination of reliable and timely health data, with a particular emphasis on disease surveillance and outbreak response.
By reorienting health systems towards PHC and achieving UHC, countries can build global solidarity and respond effectively to health emergencies, while also promoting health equity and social justice.