Handbook on social participation for UHC

Social participation mechanisms are vital for responsive health reforms that leave no one behind in efforts to achieve universal health coverage (UHC). In September 2019, Member States at the UN High Level Meeting on UHC made a commitment to engage relevant stakeholders, including civil society, through establishing participatory and transparent multi-stakeholder processes for influencing policies and reviews of progress on UHC.

WHO’s support to Member States promotes a concept of UHC, which includes the need to foster multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on issues linked to UHC reform. Managing and involving stakeholders, including lay people and the population, requires a specific set of skills, in which governments need to invest. 

In response to requests from Member States and the recommendations of the Taskforce on WHO-CSO engagement, WHO and UHC2030 are developing a handbook jointly with civil society actors and Member State representatives through the Social Participation Technical Network.  

The ‘Handbook on Social Participation for UHC’ will provide specific best practice guidance to policy-makers on how to effectively and meaningfully engage with populations, civil society, and communities for policy- and decision-making.

The handbook draws from both primary (country case studies and targeted country interviews) and secondary data (literature reviews). Data collection is complete and data analyses are ongoing, with support from the Social Participation Technical Network. The Handbook is now at an advanced stage of development and your views would be useful to shape the final document. It is an important time to consult meaningfully with civil society and community-based organisations to ensure that the content will have traction with governments going forward.

About the Social Participation Technical Network

This is an external advisory body convened to guide handbook development. It comprises one third member states, one third civil society and one third academia. It has convened twice to discuss and agree the core content of the book. In addition, consultations with WHO’s internal advisory group on community participation comprising representatives from WHO programmes with strong community engagement experiences have supported handbook development.

High-level political commitment 

The level of political commitment for social participation is very high. The Political Declaration of the UN HLM on UHC includes the following. Paragraph 43: Engage all relevant stakeholders, including the civil society, private sector, philanthropic foundations, academic institutions and community, as appropriate, through the establishment of participatory governance platforms and multi-stakeholder partnerships, in the development and implementation of health- and social-related policies and progress monitoring to the achievement of national objectives for UHC, while giving due regard to managing conflicts of interest.

                       General overview presentation about the handbook.

Launch of Civil Society and Community Consultation

WHO, UHC2030 and the UHC Partnership is pleased to launch the civil society and community consultation for the Handbook on Social Participation for UHC.  In this stage of the handbook, we present outlines of the five core chapters of the book and seek feedback on the content with regard to whether the topics and messages resonate with your organisation and if there are any gaps.

Our target audience for the survey are civil society and community groups because they are not usually consulted in the standard WHO peer review processes. However, we also welcome anyone else who would like to contribute, to fill out the survey and give feedback. We would like to remind other contributors that the questions are formulated more for a civil society and community-based group audience but that should not deter any interested party to give input.

You can read an overview of five of the main chapters below, with summaries of what we mean by the topic, why the topic matters to policymakers and key selected messages. The editorial team at WHO will assess and integrate your feedback into the final handbook.

Representation chapter overview 

Necessary capacities chapter overview 

Deliberation to policymaking chapter overview 

Legislative framework chapter overview 

Sustaining participation chapter overview 

Complete the survey here.

Timeline of consultation for handbook development

Dec 2019 to early April 2020 - Civil society consultation on chapter outline and key messages

Autumn 2020 (TBC) – Social participation handbook published and launched

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