WHO South-East Asia Says It Will Invest More In Primary Healthcare

WHO South-East Asia Says It Will Invest More In Primary Healthcare

Southeast Asia's Universal Health Coverage (UHC) service index has improved from 47 in 2010 to 62 in 2021 in the last 10 years.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, October 31, 2023, 05:06 PM IST
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World Health Organization's Southeast Asia Region have pledged to prioritise investment in primary health care. | WHO-SEARO

Members of the World Health Organization's Southeast Asia Region have pledged to prioritise investment in primary health care to advance progress towards universal health coverage.

"Prioritising investments to strengthen primary health care, including health workforce, will accelerate progress towards achieving health for all and help realise health-related sustainable development goals, health security and equity promoting health systems," said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Southeast Asia's Regional Director.

After Singh's speech at the Ministerial Round Table on 'Strengthening primary health care as a key element towards achieving universal health coverage', the member countries and WHO signed the Delhi Declaration for strengthening primary health care.

The declaration builds on the assurances of state heads and government, and also health ministers, to promote primary health care as the most efficient and effective means to address the region's developing population health concerns. This aligns with the recent UN General Assembly Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the G20 New Delhi Leaders Declaration on primary health care.

According to Singh, "We must seize this opportunity to build on the strong momentum created to accelerate progress towards universal health care. This will ensure that everyone, everywhere, has access to the health care and services they require, where they require it, and without financial difficulty."

Affordable and quality health services remain challenging despite substantial efforts by member nations in recent years. In 2017, about 299 million people in the region suffered catastrophic health spending.

Southeast Asia's UHC service index improving

In the last 10 years, the region's UHC service index has advanced from 47 in 2010 to 62 in 2021. Since 2014, the number of doctors, nurses, and midwives has increased by more than 30 per cent. However, progress in several countries slowed or reversed between 2019 and 2021, mainly owing to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Declaration calls for prioritising investment in primary health care

The declaration calls for prioritised and optimised investment in primary health care to accelerate progress, including in multi-disciplinary and people-centred primary health care teams. It also calls for improving supply and logistics management to provide adequate, quality, and affordable medical products at the primary healthcare level.

The declaration calls for efficient use of available resources through strengthened governance systems, monitoring and accountability and the use of innovative technologies and data to enhance access and improve health service delivery.

"A robust primary healthcare-oriented system is the most efficient and equitable approach for achieving universal health coverage," Dr Khetrapal Singh said. "By reorienting health services around a life course approach, we can ensure people have access to health services throughout their lives," she added.

Countries pledge to strengthen primary healthcare

We must increase community participation and ensure health care systems are designed around people with the flexibility to deploy available resources most efficiently to meet the most pressing needs of the community, the Regional Director said.

Member countries also pledged to promote regional, national, subnational, and cross-country systems for collaboration, knowledge management and sharing to strengthen primary health care.

(With inputs from ANI)

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