A robust primary health care (PHC)-oriented health system is the most equitable and efficient approach for achieving universal health coverage and health security. To accelerate PHC-oriented transformation of health systems, Member countries of WHO South-East Asia Region, WHO, and Partners today launched the South-East Asia Regional Forum for Primary Health Care-Oriented Health Systems.
The importance of PHC-oriented health systems was brought to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic challenges.
“Amid the ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery, demands on health systems across our Region have increased, demands that must be met amid significant resource constraints, even as we advocate for countries to not just sustain but even increase expenditure on health,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, addressing participants at the launch of the PHC forum.
The Regional Director emphasized the importance of coordinated and sustained support toward national priorities, “Our challenges are immense, and our glass is half full. While the last few years have witnessed unprecedented energy and innovation in health, we must grasp these and other opportunities to accelerate transformation across our Region and do so in a manner that is coordinated, aligned with national priorities, and which avoids duplication and fragmentation,”
In December last year, the Region launched its new strategy on PHC. The Strategy elaborates a set of 12 interdependent Strategic Actions, which seek to together guide, support and monitor PHC transformation in the Region.
The Regional PHC Forum will drive action across countries through capturing and facilitating implementation-focused knowledge and experience, strengthened collaboration across development, implementation, and research partners, towards Member State priorities, and enable joint advocacy for strengthened PHC investment in the Region.
Member State priorities and needs will drive the Regional PHC Forum, with partners providing support.
“Together, we must be steered by shared learning, synergy and action, focused not just on the ‘what’, but the ‘how’. No more can there be ships in the dark, moving roughly together, but never quite reaching port. Our objectives are simply too important, our responsibilities too great,” said the Regional Director.
Representatives from SE Asia Region Member States, WHO, USAID, UNICEF, Asian Development Bank, Gates Foundation, JHPIEGO, PATH International, Access Health/Global Learning Collaborative, and other relevant partner institutions will serve as an Advisory Committee to the Forum.WHO reiterates its support to Member States to formulate policy and strengthen efforts towards quality, accessible, and affordable primary health care, to achieve universal health coverage, health security, and Health for All.