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 organizations 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 on the core content of the book. In addition, consultations with WHO’s internal advisory group on community participation comprising representatives from WHO programs 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.
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 organization and if there are any gaps.
Our target audience for the survey is 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.
In early February 2020, each chapter of the handbook will be published in full and there will be further opportunity to comment meaningfully on the content. The editorial team at WHO will assess and integrate your feedback into the final handbook.
Timeline of consultation for handbook development
Dec 2019 to early Feb 2020 – Civil society consultation on chapter outline and key messages
Early Feb – end March – Civil society consultation on full chapters plus webinars
May 2019 – Social Participation Handbook published and launched at the World Health Assembly