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Civil society organisations (CSOs) are playing a critical role in building a strong equity-focused and people-led movement for UHC.
Through a broad consultative process, CSOs set up the Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (CSEM) of UHC2030 to represent their constituency. Membership in the CSEM is open to all civil society representatives advancing health, financing and governance agendas that relate to achieving UHC. Identifying as a UHC advocate is not a requirement for joining.
Why a CSO engagement mechanism in UHC2030?
The CSEM believes that the pursuit of UHC must involve civil society to ensure no one is left behind. We encourage all civil society advocates to integrate UHC advocacy to reduce fragmentation and competition among health initiatives, promote stronger health systems, and encourage a human rights-based approach to health.
The CSEM raises civil society voices within UHC2030 to ensure that UHC policies are inclusive and equitable, and that systematic attention is given to the most marginalized and vulnerable populations so that no one is left behind.
1. Leave no one behind
Civil society is often best placed to gain access to, represent, and prioritize the most marginalized key populations. To leave no one behind, civil society is a critical voice to ensure that: people have the necessary access to equitable health services; they are informed of health policies; can input into their country’s health systems strengthening efforts.
2. Increase Public Financing for Health
To ensure universal health coverage and health system strengthening, reducing out of pocket expenses and achieving the aims of the SDGs, national governments and donors should take certain actions.
- National governments should progressively increase their investment in health by either moving towards allocating at least 15% of their annual budget to health, or up to 5% of their annual GDP as government health care expenditure, as contextually appropriate. This increased budget for health should be raised through mandatory and fair pooling mechanisms (such as improving tax revenue collection, setting up social health insurance) with everyone receiving services according to their need. These services should be free at the point of use.
- National governments should give priority to primary health care linked to essential care packages that are defined by country-level needs and priorities required to meet SDG target 3.8.1, with a concrete plan to ensure the removal of direct cash payments as an urgent measure.
- Donor governments should provide funding in alignment with countries’ plans, the aid effectiveness principles and the WHO recommendation of funding levels not below 0.1% of GNI. This is critical in fragile and conflict-affected settings, where much of the health system is supported by foreign aid. Donors should further support low-income countries to bridge significant finance gaps. The international community should support countries to grow their fiscal space by tackling undermining practices like tax evasion and avoidance, and lifting harmful macro-economic policy conditions.
3. Improve Involvement of CSOs and Citizens, Transparency and Accountability at All Levels
Civil society must be included in decision-making processes at all levels, to facilitate citizen-led monitoring of progress against outcomes towards universal health coverage, including the health budget and adherence to commitments. This includes involvement in health systems strengthening efforts at national and district level, and the provision of expanded health coverage to the poorest and most marginalized groups. Strengthening social-led accountability is necessary to maintain the integrity of health systems, prevent corruption-related resource drain, and ensure more appropriate, acceptable and sustainable health programs.
4. Invest in Health Workers
Achieving universal health coverage depends on the availability, accessibility, and capacity of professionally trained health workers, more so at the primary care level, to deliver quality, people-centered health services. It is critical to ensure that adequate health care financing is earmarked for training and capacity building of community and frontline health workers so that they are able to support the provision of inclusive, holistic and equitable health services, especially to those who are most marginalized.
The CSEM Secretariat is co-hosted by Management Sciences for Health and WACI Health. The Secretariat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
To see recent resources, visit the CSEM E-Library.
Download: About CSEM (Flyer, 2020)
Download: Civil Society’s Calls to Action for COVID-19 (2020) (also available in French and Spanish)
Download: CSEM Communications and Advocacy Strategy (2019)
You can read more about the process of developing the CSEM here:
Download: Assessment of civil society engagement mechanisms in global initiatives
Download: Survey report for CSO engagement mechanisms in UHC2030
Download: Proposal for a civil society engagement mechanism
Download: UHC2030 and the civil society engagement mechanism also available in French and Spanish.
Download: Review of the Health Policy Action Fund
Read: Statement for the UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS
Read: CSEM at AHAIC 2021: Driving Momentum for UHC in Africa
Read: New Civil Society Paper: Health and economic impacts of COVID-19 containment strategies
Read: Stories from Civil Society on Protecting Everyone
Read: For an equitable COVID-19 response, investments in civil society cannot wait
Read: Moving together for UHC: listening to civil society on how to strengthen social participation in policy and decision-making
"To make real, consistent and sustainable progress towards UHC, the global community needs to consider stronger investments in civil society and communities’ work on policy change, resource mobilisation and accountability."