Global health leaders set priorities for achieving universal health coverage
Public health leaders and key stakeholders from around the world have come together at the Prince Mahidol Award Conference to discuss how limited health resources can be used in the most cost-effective way to provide high-quality health care.
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn opened the conference by saying it came at a key moment since it followed the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by countries late last year. The UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé delivered a keynote address speaking about the need for a paradigm shift, moving from a disease response to a people-centred approach.
The conference, which is takingplace in Bangkok, Thailand from 26 to 31 January, is being held under the theme Priority Setting for Universal Health Coverage. It is welcoming more than 900 government officials, representatives of intergovernmental organizations, international development partners and researchers from around 50 countries.
Thailand is one of the countries that have succeeded in putting people at the centre of their universal health coverage plan. Thailand champions the scale-up of community-led services. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, for example, works closely with civil society and communities.
During his visit to Thailand, Mr Sidibé visited two community-led programmes with Ms. Pusadee Tamthai, the Deputy Governor of Bangkok. One was the Service Workers in Group Foundation, better known as SWING, which supports sex workers by providing screening for sexually-transmitted infections, HIV counselling, testing, treatment, care and support services.
Mr Sidibé also visited the Tangerine clinic,housed at the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Center, which is the first clinic to offer comprehensive sexual health services to transgender people in Thailand. Mr Praphan Phanuphak, Director of the Research Center, is a pioneer in the AIDS movement and demonstrates how science, integrated into community work, brings health care to even the most marginalized people.
“It is time to address the critical linkages between health, injustice, inequality, poverty and conflict. Our collective challenge towards universal health coverage will be how to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized—the hardest to reach.”
“As we set priorities, let us keep people at the centre, particularly the most vulnerable.”
“We believe that equitable services are about equal partnerships with communities and civil society so the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration values and continues to strengthen its collaboration with community organizations in the delivery of HIV and other essential health services.”
“Empowering people is essential for good universal health coverage, as only if people have a voice will they ask for the services they really need. SWING and other community networks and civil society organizations are working with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to ensure their voice is heard.”