Universal access to essential health information – paper in BMJ Global Health

18 May, 2020

HIFA colleagues

We are pleased to announce the publication in BMJ Global Health of the paper

'Universal access to essential health information: accelerating progress towards universal health coverage and other SDG health targets', authored by three HIFA steering group members (Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Chris Zielinski and myself). It is open access and can be found at http://gh.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/bmjgh-2020-002475

The paper highlights the following points:

- Effective people-centred health care requires the public, carers and frontline health workers to have timely access to reliable, practical, health information (we term this essential health information), yet in many parts of the world this is often difficult for people to obtain.

- Universal access to essential health information is therefore a prerequisite for, and indeed a key component of, universal health coverage (UHC), yet this fundamental role for UHC of access to essential health information appears to have been largely neglected - for example it does not feature in thhe Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) UHC target or associated indicators.

- There is growing evidence of the impact of wider access to practical, actionable, information about health and how this could accelerate the achievement of UHC and other SDG health targets.

- Achieving universal access to essential health information is becoming increasingly feasible and affordable, not least due to the global spread of modern communication technology, but progress is being held back by a glaring lack of high-level political and financial commitment.

- All stakeholders need to work together to accelerate progress towards universal access to essential health information; a catalyst for this would be the inclusion of universal access to essential health information in the relevant SDG target and associated monitoring indicators for UHC, a step that WHO could usefully endorse.

** Please bring this paper to the attention of appropriate contacts, especially relevant people in health policy organisations, funding bodies, and knowledge intermediaries**

Keep safe


Dr Geoff Royston


+44(0)7531 125436

Skype geoff.royston

HIFA profile: Geoff Royston is an Independent Health Analyst and Researcher, former Head of Strategic Analysis and Operational Research in the Department of Health for England, and Past President of the UK Operational Research Society. His work has focused on informing the design, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes in health and social care, and on fostering the capabilities of others to work in these areas. Associated activities have included modelling for understanding the performance of complex systems, analysis and communication of risk, and horizon scanning and futures thinking. He has also worked on information and communication technology in the health sector, notably in leading the design and national launch of the telephone and online health information and advice service NHS Direct. He has served on both scientific and medical UK Research Council panels, and as an impact assessor for the UK higher education Research Excellence Framework. He is a member of the editorial board for the journal Health Care Management Science and in 2012 was Guest Editor for its special issue on Global Health. He has been a consultant for the World Health Organisation, is a long standing member of the EURO Working Group on Operational Research Applied to Health Services, and is an expert adviser to the mHIFA (mobile Healthcare Information for All) programme. http://www.hifa.org/projects/mobile-hifa-mhifa He is also a member of the main HIFA Steering Group and the HIFA working group on Evaluating the Impact of Healthcare Information.


geoff.royston AT gmail.com