Research for universal health coverage
World health report 2013
World Health Organization
Universal health coverage ensures everyone has access to the health services they need without suffering financial hardship as a result. In December 2012, a UN resolution was passed encouraging governments to move towards providing universal access to affordable and quality health care services. As countries move towards it, common challenges are emerging — challenges to which research can help provide answers.
The World health report: research for universal health coverage focuses on the importance of research in advancing progress towards universal health coverage. In addition, it identifies the benefits of increased investment in health research by low- and middle-income countries using case studies from around the world, and proposes ways to further strengthen this type of research.
2013 World Health Report: Research for Universal Health Coverage officially launched
The World Health Organization (WHO) launched the “2013 World Health Report: Research for Universal Health Coverage”, and called on countries to continue investing in local research in order to develop a system of universal health coverage tailored to each individual country’s situation. The report was officially launched in Beijing, China by the WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan during a high-level event which included government ministers from the People’s Republic of China and several African countries.
The report shows how countries, when developing a system for universal health coverage, can use research to determine what health issues should be addressed, how a system should be structured and how to measure progress according to their specific health situation.
Case studies from many countries demonstrate the importance of local and global research for improving health, ranging from the prevention and control of specific diseases to the better functioning of health systems. The results of these studies emphasize the critical need for research to be carried out locally, where researchers can consider specific factors critical to individual countries.
Universal health coverage requires a strong, efficient, well-run health system; a system for financing health services; access to essential medicines and technologies, and sufficient well-trained, motivated health workers. The human resources for health (HRH) crisis is unanimously accepted as one of the key constraints to the attainment of UHC. The Global Health Workforce Alliance (the Alliance) has argued that health workers have the potential to make a real difference; and new evidence seems to confirm this. As the 2013 WHR explains, trials in Africa, Asia and Europe have demonstrated how the participation of outreach workers, lay health workers, community midwives, community and village health workers, and trained birth attendants collectively reduced neonatal deaths by an average of 24%, stillbirths by 16% and perinatal mortality by 20%. Maternal illness was also reduced by a quarter.
To move the HRH and UHC agendas forward, the Alliance will convene the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health in Recife, Brazil, on November 10—13, 2013, under the theme “Human Resources for Health: Foundation for Universal Health Coverage and the Post-2015 Development Agenda”. The Forum will be an opportunity to share best practices and lessons learned on what policy actions and investment decisions are required for the achievement of UHC. In the lead-up to and at the event, countries, development partners, and other key stakeholders will also be invited to make new HRH commitments. Concurrently, a set of goals, targets, and technical indicators will be agreed in order to monitor progress on those commitments.