Last week at HSR2018, a major international conference on global health research, Geoff Royston gave a poster presentation on behalf of HIFA to draw attention to the need, in progressing and monitoring the Sustainable Development Goal on Universal Health Coverage, to include the key component of universal access to essential healthcare information, and the growing opportunity to achieve this through making use of the global spread of mobile phones. Over the coming months HIFA will be aligning our work and universal access to healthcare information more explicitly with the SDGs, UHC and the WHO General Programme of Work.
HIFA's take-away message (also very relevant to the upcoming Astana conference on Primary Health Care) is from the plenary panel session (introduced with a keynote speech by Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director General of WHO) on the topic 'Placing community health systems at the heart of service delivery'. This session stressed the importance of empowering people, enabling them to take better control of their own health was vital especially for rural communities. The panellists noted that in some places communities ARE the health system, that 'health is made at home', and that in resource-limited situations coaching on knowledge and skills could have more health impact and better cost-effectiveness than many medicines.