Communities at the Heart of Universal Health Coverage

Communities at the Heart of Universal Health Coverage

AMP Health, along with Amref Health Africa, Financing Alliance for Health, the International Rescue Committee, Last Mile Health and Living Goods have launched a year-long campaign to elevate the visibility of community health within the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) space. Communities at the Heart of UHC is a global campaign working to ensure that quality integrated community health programs that are government-owned and financially sustainable are included in national UHC strategies.

We are part of a larger movement of key organizations, including UHC2030, donors and country leaders, working to increase the dialogue on community health programs globally and advocate for funding through domestic resources and foreign assistance.

As the global community prepares to renew and refine commitments to UHC and primary health care (PHC), we have the opportunity to advocate for high-quality community health programs in realizing a PHC-driven UHC agenda. Decades of evidence indicates that community health programs can extend quality PHC services to rural and vulnerable populations since local community health workers can deliver essential health services where health facilities do not exist. Compared to traditional health delivery models, which rely solely on facility-based care, fail to prioritize vulnerable populations, and are costly for resource-constrained governments, strong community health systems offer a cost-effective solution to achieve UHC that extends access to care to vulnerable populations first.

In the decades following the first declaration on PHC, the global community built a strong evidence base on the efficacy and shortcomings of community health program implementation. In order to achieve full potential, these programs must be government-owned, sustainability financed, and incorporated into national health strategies. To be effective, community health programs cannot be treated as stand-alone or vertical programs; rather, they must be integrated into the national PHC system. These programs should also be included in national health strategies to increase access and provide services aligned to population needs and locations.

Why now?

We have the opportunity to leverage a historic window of support and interest in community health to ensure that this momentum is translated into long-term action by including community health in national UHC strategies. Major institutions have demonstrated that community health is a priority, as evidenced by the work of the Global Financing Facility’s Frontline First Window, the WHO guidelines on community health workers (CHWs), and the commitment of the African Union and UNAIDS to the 2mCHW movement. In addition, since the 2017 Institutionalizing Community Health Conference in South Africa, more than 25 countries have begun developing action plans for addressing priority issues and challenges to harmonize donor support for community health systems. When the global community renewed its commitment to achieve UHC, we made a promise to secure health access for all and to prioritize hard-to-reach populations. Community health programs are critical to achieving this goal.

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