Delegates attending World Health Assembly agree to promote Universal Health Coverage with focus on Primary Health Care

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Community Health Workers will play a vital role in realization of UHC
Delegates attending World Health Assembly
agree to promote Universal Health Coverage
with focus on Primary Health Care
WHO Secretariat to collect & evaluate data, monitor
implementation of the guideline

GENEVA: Delegates attending the World Health Assembly have agreed on three resolutions including the one related to universal health coverage (UHC). They had a special focus on primary healthcare and the role of community health workers in realizing the dream of providing universal health coverage. The meeting also decided to call a special meeting of the UN General Assembly high-level meeting in September on Universal Health Coverage.

As per the first resolution Member States are required to take measures to implement the Declaration of Astana, adopted at the 2018 Global Conference on Primary Health Care. It recognizes the key role strong primary health care plays in ensuring countries can provide the full range of health services a person needs throughout their life – be it disease prevention or treatment, rehabilitation or palliative care. Primary health care means countries must have quality, integrated health systems, empowered individuals and communities, and that they must involve a wide range of sectors in addressing social, economic, and environmental determinants of health.

The resolution calls on the WHO secretariat to increase its support to Member States in this area. WHO is also required to finalize its Primary Health Care Operational Framework in time for next year’s World Health Assembly. WHO and other stakeholders are tasked with supporting countries in implementing the Declaration of Astana and mobilizing resources to build strong and sustainable primary health care.

The second resolution recognizes the contribution made by community health workers to achieving universal health coverage, responding to health emergencies, and promoting healthier populations. It urges countries and partners to use whose guideline on health policy and system support to optimize community health worker programme, and to allocate adequate resources. At the same time, the WHO Secretariat is requested to collect and evaluate data, monitor implementation of the guideline, and provide support to Member States.

Community health workers have a key role to play in delivering primary health care – they speak local languages and have the trust of local people. They need to be well trained, effectively supervised, and properly recognized for the work they do, as part of multi-disciplinary teams. Investing in community health workers generates important employment opportunities, especially for women. 

The final UHC resolution endorsed by delegates supports preparation for the UN General Assembly high-level meeting on universal health coverage in September 2019. The resolution calls on Member States to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage with a focus on poor, vulnerable and marginalized individuals and groups. The UN high-level meeting will call for the involvement of governments in coordinating the work required across all sectors to achieve universal health coverage. Delegates identified key priorities such as health financing, building sustainable and resilient people-centered health systems, and strengthening health workforces. They also emphasized the importance of investing in and strengthening primary health care.

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