Reflections on WHO Classification of Self-Care Interventions webinar (3)

16 February, 2022

*February 14, 2022 WHO Classification of Self-Care Interventions webinar

Second message “Descriptions and adoption of self-care interventions”.

The self care interventions are to support Individuals’ health needs and self-care related health system challenges when there are problems of:

availability, agency, quality, cost, social support, accessibility, utilization, information and acceptability.

The WHO self-care classification and standards are living guidelines produced to steer healthcare into a new era moving the paradigm of much care away from the health clinic to be co-produced in the home. The standards and classification are designed particularly to help people who have low levels of health literacy, little access to professional care and little or no access to accurate health knowledge. The standards and classification are also designed to increase citizens “agency” and access to health care.

The self-care interventions are designed to support four outcomes:

1. Interventions with self-carers and care-givers as agents of care.

2. Supplementing care pathways performed by health workers

3. Resourcing and enabling part of the management plans of healthcare managers

4. Resourcing and enabling part of the plans of policy directors and planners.

There are barriers to acceptance of self-care by service providers and planners which are:

1. Non acceptance by service providers

2. Opposed economic interests

3. Changes in power structures

Self-care terminology:

Self-care is the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker. Self-care interventions are evidence-based information, medicines, diagnostics, products and technologies that are fully or partially separate from formal health services and that can be used with or without the support of a health worker. The interventions are self-management, self-testing and self-awareness.

Research studies show that citizens do want to use self-care interventions but they need good operating instructions and to be taught what to do with the results. The classification is designed to create a common language that will help managers and planners to discuss how self-care can be provided across whole populations. There are many skills that citizens still need which hopefully could be provided through people-centred life courses and peer to peer action to support access to the use of self-care interventions.

Current adoption of the Classification: The WHO has published Digital Adaptation Kits (DAKs) for ANC and Family Planning that include aspects of self-care interventions. Now they are working on the first volume of a self-care DAK to support digital home-based records using simplified language to support a dialogue between diverse public health.

The 2021 WHO Guideline on self-care interventions is being implemented in several countries in the Africa region – Burkina Fasso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda.

*Burkina Faso* Using the Classification document to support implementation research on introducing DMPA Sc.

*Ethiopia *Development of national guidelines on self-care interventions.

*Kenya* The Classification can allow for better articulating the SRH needs of women and girls based on identified health system challenges

*Nigeria* National inventories and landscape analysis for self-care interventions and the Classification allows for supporting policy dialogue around introduction and uptake

*Uganda* Promoting advocacy and communication around what we mean by self-care more broadly and what we mean by self-care interventions

References and useful links:

WHO health topic page on self-care interventions:

WHO Classification of self-care interventions (2021):

WHO Guideline on self-care interventions for health and well-being


WHO video on Self-care interventions to support UHC and PHC (2019):

For any request please send us an email to:

HIFA profile: Richard Fitton is a retired family doctor - GP, British Medical Association. Professional interests: Health literacy, patient partnership of trust and implementation of healthcare with professionals, family and public involvement in the prevention of modern lifestyle diseases, patients using access to professional records to overcome confidentiality barriers to care, patients as part of the policing of the use of their patient data

Email address: richardpeterfitton7 AT