WHO global strategy on people-centred and integrated health services
The WHO global strategy on people-centred and integrated health services represents a call for a fundamental shift in the way health services are funded, managed and delivered. This is urgently needed to meet the challenges being faced nowadays by health systems around the world. The fact that people are living longer, along with the burden of treating long-term chronic conditions and preventable illnesses which often require multiple complex interventions, both mean that pressure on health systems continues to grow. Moreover, universal health coverage will not be achieved without improvements in the delivery of health services. Unless a people-centred and integrated health services approach is adopted, health care will become increasingly fragmented, inefficient and unsustainable.
Putting people at the heart of the health-care experience and focusing on a true and lasting integration of services offered to them are urgently needed to meet the challenges faced by today’s health systems, however diverse. The strategy presents a compelling vision of a future in which all people have access to health services that are provided in a way that responds to their preferences, are coordinated around their needs and are safe, effective, timely, efficient and of an acceptable quality. A new mother in Dubrovnik, a cancer sufferer in Delhi, a mental health patient in Dubai and an accident victim in Dakar will each have the promise of better, more customized and timely care.
The WHO global strategy on people-centred and integrated health services is made up of two linked documents: 1) the strategy itself, which presents a compelling case for a people-centred and integrated health services approach, along with a look at the way forward, and 2) an overview of good practice, which presents a number of case studies and the evidence on the benefits that people-centred and integrated care can bring to people, communities and countries.
It should be emphasised that both documents are still interim reports that will undergo further consultation, with a view to being submitted to WHO’s Governing Bodies in 2016. More information on this will come soon.
What are people-centred and integrated health services?
People-centred, integrated health services are an important new way to empower patients, fight health system fragmentation and both engage and incentivize providers across care settings.
People-centred health services are an approach to care that consciously adopts the perspectives of individuals, families and communities, and sees them as participants as well as beneficiaries of trusted health systems that respond to their needs and preferences in humane and holistic ways. People-centred care requires that people have the education and support they need to make decisions and participate in their own care. It is organized around the health needs and expectations of people rather than diseases.
Integrated health services are health services that are managed and delivered in a way that ensures people receive a continuum of health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, disease management, rehabilitation and palliative care services, at the different levels and sites of care within the health system, and according to their needs, throughout their whole life.
The way forward
WHO recommends five interwoven actions for health service delivery to become more people-centred and integrated, including:
- Empowering and engaging people
- Strengthening governance and accountability
- Reorienting care models towards efficiency and effectiveness
- Coordinating services around the needs of people, health care provider integration and effective networks, and
- Creating an enabling environment for change.
There is no perfect combination or “one size fits all” solution. The right PCIHS solution will depend on a country’s unique context and needs, as well as local considerations. The WHO global strategy on people-centred and integrated health services is designed flexibly enough to provide each Member State with the tools it may require to “provide the right care at the right time”. It also builds on and supports WHO’s historical push for better primary health care, addressing the social determinants of health, strengthening health systems, building health workforce capacity and universal health coverage. People-centred and integrated health care is essential for moving towards universal health coverage.