EHS-COVID (24) WHO guidance: Maintaining essential health services

9 November, 2020

Dear HIFA colleagues,

On 16 November we officially start our first thematic discussion here on HIFA on Maintaining essential health services during (and after) the pandemic.

Over the coming days I invite you to become familiar with WHO's interim guidance on this topic: Maintaining essential health services: operational guidance for the COVID-19 context interim guidance (June 2020). Our discussion will be largely based on this guidance, informed by your sharing of experience and expertise about current realities in your facility, your community, and your country.

You can download the document here:

Part 1 of the guidance proposes 10 'basic principles and practical recommendations that support decision-making to ensure the continuity of select essential health services, highlighting key actions that countries should consider', and part 2 contains 'specific adaptations and considerations for life course and disease programmes in the context of COVID-19'.

It's worth noting this guidance is described as 'interim', indicating that it will be updated and revised in accordance not only with new evidence, but also informed by the inputs of those (us and others) who use and apply the guidance. Does the guidance address the necessary issues adequately? Is it practical and pragmatic? Can the guidance be readily contextualiosed for use at country, subnational or facility level?

The guidance is intended primarily for decision-makers and managers at the national and subnational levels, but all of us have a role to play. Earlier this morning we noted an example (Ghana) where the guidance has been incorporated into a national plan, and we look forward to learn more about this as well as experience in other countries.

Feel free to contribute at any time:

With thanks, Neil

Coordinator, WHO-HIFA Collaboration: HIFA project on Essential Health Services and COVID-19

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: