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About the UHC2030 civil society engagement mechanism
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 vulnerable and marginalized key populations. It is a critical voice to ensure that all people equal access to quality essential health services, are informed of health policies and are included in decision making.
2. Increase public financing for health
To ensure universal health coverage, strengthen health systems, reduce out-of-pocket expenses and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals:
- National governments should progressively increase their investment in health by either 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 and setting up social health insurance), with everyone receiving services according to need.
- National governments should prioritize 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. This entails developing 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 practices such as 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.
Social participation is mentioned in SDG target 16.7, the Astana Declaration (2018), the WHO Handbook on social participation (2021) and the 2019 and 2023 Political Declarations UHC. We are now aiming for a World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution to institutionalize social participation for health and well-being. Learn more on the CSEM website here.
4. Invest in health and care workers
Achieving universal health coverage depends on the availability, accessibility and capacity of professionally trained health and care workers—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 and care workers so that they are able to support the provision of inclusive, holistic and equitable health services, especially to marginalized and vulnerable populations.
CSEM toolkits and advocacy pieces
- 2023 Political Declaration on UHC: CSEM comprehensive analysis and briefing note (2023)
- The Civil Society Commentary on the 2023 Global Monitoring Report (2023)
- Advocacy brief toward a WHA Resolution on social participation (2023)
- Findings from 2021 and 2022 Country Consultations on the state of UHC commitment (2022)
- Toolkit on health budget literacy, advocacy and accountability for UHC (2021)
- Health For All Advocacy Toolkit (2021)
"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."