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.

Download: General overview presentation about the handbook

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. 

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.

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