December 2021 Update

A New Resource for UHC Advocates

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts around the world have made it abundantly clear that achieving health for all should be a priority for all stakeholders. Civil society from across focus areas must unite to make progress on building strong health systems that can deliver UHC and address future threats. To this end, the Civil Society Engagement Mechanism for UHC2030 (CSEM) launched a new resource to build capacity, inspire and mobilize civil society in support of the global movement for UHC.

The Health for All Advocacy Toolkit (available in EnglishFrench, and Spanish) is designed to be used by civil society and community advocates who are interested in learning more about what UHC means, understand the commitments made at the global, regional, and country levels, and explore how they can incorporate UHC principles into their advocacy.

The Toolkit was launched through virtual events on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the Civil-20 (C20) Summit (See: Recording at UNGA; Recording at C20).

CSEM is working with regional partners to disseminate the Health for All Advocacy Toolkit through their networks and introduce it to broad groups of civil society and community representatives interested in achieving health for all through regional advocacy workshops. Online sessions were conducted for the Asia Pacific on 18 November and for Eastern and Southern Africa on 23 November (See: Recordings and Supplementary Material). Workshops in other regions and additional languages will be held in the next few months.

Overview of recent events and initiatives

The Alliance for Gender Equality and UHC hosted an UNGA side event on advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in UHC. The movement towards UHC can help overcome the barriers to realizing SRHR, but only with an intersectional lens that centers girls and women in all their identities. Dumiso Gatsha (CSEM Advisory Group Member; Success Capital NGO) emphasized the importance of meaningful civil society and community engagement in decision-making and called for feminist leadership that ensures diverse civil society voices are represented. 

As the year draws to an end, the CSEM reflects on the work of the C20 in pushing for health systems strengthening and equitable policies with G20 leaders through various communications and fora in the lead-up to the G20 Summit in Italy. Kurt Freider (Fundación Huésped; CSEM Advisory Group Member) co-chaired the C20 Global Health Working Group; at the C20 Summit plenary, he discussed the urgent need to put the last mile first and ensure protections for key, marginalized and vulnerable populations in the COVID-19 response. The C20 Final Communiqué outlines civil society demands for G20 leaders guided by four overarching principles: "the stubborn determination to leave no one behind, the necessity of a gender-transformative approach, the need for a comprehensive vision for a real sustainability, and the policy coherence to link together the future of the planet and of humankind."

In November, the CSEM joined the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to host two events on the links between climate change, One Health and UHC. Khuat Thi Hai Oanh (CSEM Advisory Group Member; Center for Supporting Community Development Initiatives) spoke about the role civil society and communities play in identifying and responding to emerging threats. Eliana Monteforte (CSEM Advisory Group Member; Global Health Council) stressed the importance of investing in the foundations of health systems, including community health systems, to deliver UHC and address the risks of climate change.

From 30 November to 3 December, CSEM joins partners to observe Digital Health Week and raise awareness of the potential for digital health technologies to support in the road to achieving UHC. Transform Health, Fondation Botnar, CSEM and Medicus Mundi Switzerland hosted a hybrid event on 30 November where Javier Hourcade Bellocq (CSEM Advisory Group Member; Key Correspondent Team) spoke about the digital divide and the role of civil society in building and sustaining equitable access to digital health. Maxwell Antwi (CSEM Advisory Group Member; PharmAccess Foundation) co-hosted a hybrid symposium in Ghana with stakeholders from the public and private sector on the leveraging digital health to achieve UHC in the country.

Information on CSEM participation at other cross-sectoral events can be found here.

Looking Ahead

This year, CSEM worked with global, regional and country partners to host 19 focus groups with civil society and community representatives about the state of UHC in their countries, key challenges they face, and opportunities to accelerate progress. These consultations were conducted as part of UHC2030’s multi-stakeholder State of the UHC Commitment review process but also include additional focus countries. A summary of these civil society perspectives and recommendations will be released on UHC Day.

Along with other UHC2030 constituencies, CSEM will join the UHC Day event at the Dubai Expo where the Global Monitoring Report and the State of the UHC Commitment Report will be launched. Masaki Inaba (CSEM Advisory Group; Africa Japan Forum) will be sharing highlights from the civil society consultations. The results will be explored in further detail at a civil society-led event on 15 December at 12:00–1:30pm GMT with speakers from the various civil society partners who led the focus groups.

The work toward the UN High-Level Meeting on UHC in 2023 has also begun. More than 240 people participated in the kick-off event at UNGA hosted by the Co-chairs of the Group of Friends of Universal Health Coverage and Global Health, WHO, and UHC2030. Anamaria Bejar (CSEM Advisory Group Member; International Planned Parenthood Federation) spoke about the role of civil society in holding government accountable for their UHC commitments.

To stay updated and connect with advocates from around the world, join the CSEM. (Membership is open to all civil society and community representatives).

"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." 

Rosemary Mburu, Waci Health

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