Jonathan Jay

{Photo credit: Rui Pires - Ghana.}Photo credit: Rui Pires - Ghana.

Sometimes the people who know best are, well, the people, say MSH President & CEO Dr. Jonathan D. Quick and colleagues in the second issue of The Strengthening Health Systems Journal.

Achieving the fundamental objectives of universal health coverage (UHC) and meeting the challenges of governing complex health systems requires people-centered schemes that include formal mechanisms to bring civil society and communities into the design and implementation of UHC programmes.

Dr. Quick, Research & Communications Specialist Chelsey Canavan, and Senior Writer Jonathan Jay highlight three areas where civil society and communities play vital roles in people-centered health systems: 1) ensuring the right services are provided under an essential package of health services; 2) removing barriers to care such as user fees; and 3) ensuring equitable access to health services.

In each of these areas and at every level of the health system, "citizen representation is essential", Quick and colleagues say. Bringing communities into the process at every step in the design and implementation of UHC will help "ensure meaningful increases in equity and improvements in health outcomes for the people the health system is meant to serve".

 {Photo credit: Todd Shapera.}Mother and daughter at Kigali Hospital, Rwanda.Photo credit: Todd Shapera.

What do the next 500 days mean for global health?

The looming deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will prompt a final push to achieve the health targets that have helped guide the global community since 2000: to reduce maternal and child mortality, provide contraception and curb the HIV, TB and malaria epidemics. Undoubtedly, many people will benefit from vital health services in the next 500 days.    

But many others won’t, and they’re likely to be the people who are already most vulnerable and least served. For example, as maternal deaths have dropped in developing countries, deaths are more concentrated in poor regions; the HIV epidemic still rages in marginalized populations like sex workers and people who use drugs. A key lesson of the MDG era is that nothing contributes to illness more than poverty and exclusion.

In the next 500 days, therefore, many voices will be calling for a new approach to global health in the post-2015 development framework. It’s a dramatic reinvention around a simple idea: that everyone, everywhere, should have affordable access to the health services they need.

Printer Friendly Version
Subscribe to RSS - Jonathan Jay