Integrated People-Centred Health Services: a key feature on Universal Health Coverage Day
DECEMBER 2016 | GENEVA - Reforming health services to be integrated and people-centred must be a core element of strategic efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This was a key message to come out of the UHC Day 2016 Geneva public event on 12 December, at the end of day one of the UHC2030 meeting.
The event was organised by the International Health Partnership for UHC 2030, the World Health Organization, the World Bank Group, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and Save the Children. Over 250 guests attended this event from governments, UN agencies, civil society, academia and the private sector, all contributing to a memorable evening, which highlighted the range of ambition and commitment to achieve UHC, and also some of the challenges that countries face.
Key stakeholders presented several messages about Integrated People-Centred Health Services and it was clear that IPCHS is a strong part of the UHC agenda, bringing coherency to the ambition to ‘leave no one behind’.
Dr Jeanette Vega, Director of FONASA in Chile highlighted the role of primary health care in making IPCHS a reality. She said, “Primary health care allows a long-standing personal relationship between the people and practitioners […] Well implemented, [primary health care] provides integrated services by introducing more social support in addition to primary care. It also addresses the health of individuals within a broader context.” Mr Dana Hovig, Director of Integrated Delivery, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation reinforced the role of PHC in reaching the ultimate goal of UHC. “We know that countries investing in primary health care really set themselves on the path towards universal health coverage” he said. Ms Cecilia Rodriguez, a patient advocate from Chile, emphasised the positive role engaging and empowering people can play saying, “Patients know the health system best and must be involved in reforms for UHC”.
Mr Dana Hovig, Director of Integrated Delivery, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation reinforced the role of PHC in reaching the ultimate goal of UHC. “We know that countries investing in primary health care really set themselves on the path towards universal health coverage” he said. Ms Cecilia Rodriguez, a patient advocate from Chile, emphasised the positive role engaging and empowering people can play saying, “Patients know the health system best and must be involved in reforms for UHC”.
Here are some highlights about the role of IPCHS in helping countries move towards UHC, that were mentioned during the meeting:
- Progress towards UHC requires health service delivery transformations to ensure the right care, at the right time, in right place.
- An integrated and people-centred approach to service delivery will ensure equitable/fair access to high quality, comprehensive health services that are efficient, resilient and responsive to the needs of people and communities.
- People and communities need education and information to help empower themselves to take an active role in their health and healthcare, and to meaningfully engage in decisions about how health is delivered at the subnational and national level.
- Recognizing its importance, IPCHS recommends countries prioritize primary health care (PHC) as the cornerstone of any strong health system.
- A strong primary health care system delivers on the vision of IPCHS – connecting patients with a trusted provider who can meet the vast majority of their health needs throughout their lives.
- PHC also serves as the first access point for most health problems, and plays a crucial role in coordinating complex care across providers and locations to ensure that people receive the right care in the right place, when they need it.
- Systems built on high quality primary care, result in better health outcomes, better quality of life, more equitably and a lower relative cost compared to those that overemphasize specialty or in-patient care.
- People-centred and integrated health services, delivered through a strong primary health care system, will help countries achieve universal health coverage.