New paper: Universal access to essential health information

20 May, 2020

The HIFA Steering Group is delighted to announce the publication in BMJ Global Health of our new paper (open access):  

Universal access to essential health information: accelerating progress towards universal health coverage and other SDG health targets

authored by three HIFA steering group members (Geof Royston, Chris Zielinski and Neil Pakenham-Walsh). 

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. This paper is an important milestone on HIFA's long road to our shared vision: a world where every person will have access to the healthcare inforamtion they need to protect their own health and the health of those for whom they are responsible. If you are not already a HIFA member, we invite you to join us (free).