WHO South-East Asia region to prioritise investment in primary healthcare

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Member countries of the WHO South-East Asia Region on Tuesday committed to prioritising investment in primary healthcare in order to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage.


Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh said this will help realise health-related sustainable development goals.


“Prioritising investments to strengthen primary healthcare, including the 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,” she said.


Dr Singh was addressing a ministerial roundtable on ‘Strengthening primary healthcare as a key element towards achieving universal health coverage’ which culminated in the member countries and WHO signing the Delhi Declaration for strengthening primary healthcare.


The declaration builds on the commitments of heads of state and government and ministers of health to strengthen primary healthcare as the most efficient and effective way to address evolving population health challenges in the region.


This is in line with the recent United Nations General Assembly Political Declaration on UHC and the G20 New Delhi Leaders Declaration on primary healthcare.


“We must seize the opportunity to build on the strong momentum generated to accelerate progress towards universal healthcare. This will ensure everyone everywhere can access the healthcare and services they need, where they need it and without enduring financial hardship,” Dr Singh added.


Despite significant efforts by member countries in recent years, affordable and quality health services remain a challenge and almost 299 million people in the region faced catastrophic health spending in 2017, she said.


In the last 10 years, the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) service index in the region improved from 47 in 2010 to 62 in 2021, Dr Singh said.


The density of doctors, nurses and midwives increased by over 30 per cent since 2014, she further said.


However, progress stalled or reversed between 2019 and 2021 in some countries mainly due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the regional director added.


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


“We must increase community participation and ensure healthcare systems are designed around people with the flexibility to deploy available resources in the most efficient manner to meet the most pressing needs of the community,” Dr Singh said.


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

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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