The World Health Organisation has released its policy recommendations on building a resilient health system based on primary health care.

The recommendations were inspired by the disruption of health services as part of the wide-ranging impact of the pandemic on all areas of society which led to setbacks in health gains and efforts to achieve universal health coverage (UHC).

The pandemic brought along with-it barriers to accessing health care, movements restriction, inability to afford treatments and other unprecedented challenges. Hence, this has informed the WHO policies on building sustainable health systems.

Why is this important

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commenting on the need for these policies, said,

The pandemic has been a significant setback in our efforts to support Member States to progress towards universal health coverage. We cannot build a safer world from the top down; we must build from the ground up. Preparing for, preventing, detecting and responding rapidly to epidemics starts with strong primary health care and public health systems, skilled health workers, and communities empowered and enabled to take charge of their own health. That must be the focus of our attention, and our investment.”

The WHO policy recommendations on primary health care are;

Leverage the current response to strengthen both pandemic preparedness and health systems
Invest in essential public health functions including those needed for all-hazards emergency risk management
Build a strong primary health care foundation
Invest in institutionalized mechanisms for whole-of-society engagement
Create and promote enabling environments for research, innovation and learning
Increase domestic and global investment in health system foundations and all-hazards emergency risk management
Address pre-existing inequities and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on marginalized and vulnerable populations

The paper released by the WHO focuses on health security during the COVID-19 and beyond, and reinforces the need for renewed and heightened national and global commitment aimed at making countries better prepared and health systems resilient against all forms of public health threats for sustained progress towards both UHC and health security.