Social participation for health involves civil society and community members collaborating to improve health through involvement in health system decision- making and program design. It is crucial for ensuring that policies and services are responsive to community needs, leaving no one behind. Social participation for health has resulted in better health outcomes, protection of human rights, and health system accountability.

Globally, there have been collective efforts to advocate for and institutionalize social participation for health. However, documentation of the histories and processes of institutionalized participation has been piecemeal. Systematic documentation and research on country experiences with social participation – strategies, pitfalls, risks, and costs – can help us all engage together more meaningfully and with greater impact on the path towards Universal Health Coverage.

Social Participation for Health: Engagement, Research, and Empowerment (SPHERE) is a global consortium of civil society, health and academic organizations that is:

  1. Documenting country experiences in promoting social participation for health;
  2. Collaborating with communities and civil society to promote country-specific implementation models and evaluate their impact;
  3. Drawing lessons from country-specific implementation models to advance the wider UHC2030 agenda for all countries.

The knowledge generated as part of SPHERE can act as a tool for civil society advocacy around social participation for health. Stay tuned through SPHERE’s website.

Toward a WHA Resolution on social participation in 2024

After the successful mobilisation of high-level political support during the 76th World Health Assembly (summary here), we want to hear more from you all to finalize the Draft Technical Background Paper. This document synthesises key messages from the Handbook “Voice, agency, empowerment: Handbook on social participation for universal health coverage”(launched by WHO in 2021) and will be the basis for multi-stakeholder consultations to identify priorities for Member States to institutionalise social participation in health decision-making processes. 

Thank you to all  UHC civil society advocates who filled out the survey on the technical background paper here. Your responses will help finalizing the Draft technical background paper by the end of this year (2023). Stay tuned!

How to engage in the next steps

  • Use the new Advocacy Brief  – developed to guide civil society actions towards building support for a WHA Resolution on social participation. The brief provides background information, key advocacy asks and identifies milestones in the lead up to the 77th World Health Assembly taking place in May 2024, including the three UN high-level meetings on health in September 2023. 

Read the WHO technical brief on Institutionalizing social participation to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage and health security to find more references and resources to use toward the making of the WHA Resolution on social participation. 

Thank you for your participation in our informal interactive discussion toward the institutionalisation of social participation in health decision-making processes, on Tuesday 20 June ⬇️

This online session aimed to gather civil society and communities to engage in the next steps to advance social participation for UHC in the lead up to the UN High-level Meetings on Health in September and to the adoption of a WHA Resolution on social participation in 2024.  

This session was the second civil society online consultation on advancing social participation for UHC. The first one took place on Tuesday 16th May among a series of G2H2 policy debates ahead of WHA76 (recording is available here).

Learn more on the Handbook on social participation for UHC and the Civil Society and Communities Consultation here