Investing in Health Systems Strengthening for Universal Health...
Through the early months of 2021, the Civil Society Engagement Mechanism for UHC2030 (CSEM) and civil society partners have been advocating for health equity and progress in all dimensions of universal health coverage (UHC) at country, regional, and global levels.
The CSEM continues global advocacy to ensure no one is left behind in the COVID-19 response. It supports long-term, sustainable investments in strong health systems as core to the pandemic response efforts. The C20 Global Health Working Group, co-chaired by CSEM Advisory Group member Kurt Frieder and partners, emphasised the importance of investments in health systems in the lead-up to the G20. Members also shared statements at the Civil Society Consultation for the G20 Global Health Summit. The civil society statement can be found here. Within the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), the Platform for Civil Society and Community Representatives is led by CSEM Secretariat co-host WACI Health along with StopAIDS UK and the Global Fund Advocates Network. The CSEM Secretariat coordinates civil society representatives on the Health Systems Connector, a cross-cutting pillar aiming for a coordinated focus on health systems across the other three pillars (Vaccines, Therapeutics, Diagnostics).
The CSEM Statement for the UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS called for an ambitious and comprehensive political declaration on HIV that ensures a commitment to health for all, complementing civil society efforts at the country and regional levels; CSEM Advisory Group Member Khuat Thi Hai Oanh shared these messages at the Multistakeholder Hearing leading up to the High-Level Meeting.
Similarly, calls for equity were amplified through a social media campaign for World Immunization Week that highlighted the need for global solidarity and a people’s vaccine. Advisory Group Member Dumiso Gatsha represented civil society calling for urgent solutions to leave no one behind at a high-level virtual policy discussion on access to vaccines for people on the move hosted by IFRC, ICRC, and IOM.
On World Health Day, the CSEM and the UHC2030 Private Sector Constituency organized a Partnering for UHC roundtable on how partnerships support the path to equitable health systems. The event discussed preliminary results of the UHC2030 Rapid Response Survey on Civil Society and Private Sector Collaboration for UHC and included examples of partnerships for UHC from around the world. Among other recent partnerships, the CSEM shared messages on health equity and joint advocacy for UHC at the NCD Alliance's Accelerator Programme for country-level offices and hosted a workshop at the Global Youth Meeting on Health.
The CSEM is currently working with UNAIDS, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Save the Children, NCD Alliance, People’s Health Movement, APCASO, Action for Sustainable Development, Global Health Council, and other global and country partners to implement civil society focus groups in nearly 20 countries. The focus groups will capture stories, lived experiences, challenges, and achievements in UHC from representatives of civil society and communities, especially populations that are often left behind. The results will feed into UHC2030’s State of UHC Commitment Report as well as country and regional advocacy for health equity. Based on this methodology, the CSEM and partners hosted an event on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly to highlight the importance of social participation – and particularly, the participation of the most vulnerable populations – in UHC discussions and implementation (Read more).
For equitable UHC policies, we need strong civil society participation and engagement which, in turn, requires investments in capacity-building and knowledge sharing. Earlier this year, the CSEM shared a survey with its members as well as wider networks of civil society organisations to understand the knowledge needs of civil society around UHC. Over 100 respondents from about 40 countries shared ideas on types of UHC information and resources for civil society advocates. Based on this feedback, the CSEM will soon be launching the Health for All Advocacy Toolkit. The Toolkit is a resource for civil society advocates, including those who primarily focus on specific health issue areas or SDGs beyond health, to understand the building blocks of UHC and take practical steps to incorporate UHC advocacy into their work. There are three sections to the toolkit: (1) an introduction to UHC, (2) an overview of why civil society needs to engage in UHC, and (3) how to participate. It will be a live tool available on csemonline.net in English, French, and Spanish.
Lastly, CSEM has recently announced the election of five new members to the CSEM Advisory Group. The new members, who were selected through a competitive process which included civil society leaders from around the world, join thirteen existing members on the Advisory Group who act as CSEM’s technical hub. The new members are: Eliana Monteforte from the Global Health Council (United States); Guy Bokongo from PATH (Democratic Republic of the Congo); Maxwell Antwi from PharmAccess Foundation (Ghana); Nupur Lalvani from the Blue Circle Diabetes Foundation (India); and Tara Brace-John from Save the Children (UK) (Read more). In addition, Cary James, Chief Executive of the World Hepatitis Alliance, was appointed the Alternate Civil Society Representative to the UHC2030 Steering Committee, representing the Global North (Read more).
Photo: CSEM Advisory Group’s Jose Maria ‘Lloyd’ Nunag shares a message on vaccine equity during World Immunization Week.