Kunal Patel, Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (DTMH) alumnus (2016) and Medical Director at iheed, talks about the report – “Achieving Universal Health Coverage – Technology for Innovative Primary Health Care Education” on which he is a Senior Author.
Across the globe, it is clear that there is distinct lack of universal health coverage (UHC), and strong primary care health systems. To achieve UHC we must recruit and retrain health workers at the primary care level while attempting to overcome the challenges primary care health systems face. These challenges include the stark reality of the massive health worker shortage on a global level, particularly in areas of the world where health care workers are needed the most.
iheed, in partnership with WONCA have published a report that analyses these issues with the perspective of how can technology and innovation aid this. Based on a multitude of expert interviews and an in depth review of current evidence it is clear that innovation can aid primary health care and ultimately help us to achieve UHC.
Recommendations include the evolution of the primary health care team to consist of patients and community health workers, as well as providing context specific training, and shifting from specialisation in terms of policy and financing toward a community based, primary care training model. Technology can assist with all of these by enhancing and accelerating the education of a primary care team’s members in 6 key ways:
- Developing workforce capacity
- Recruiting and retraining professionals
- Cost saving
- Facilitation of social, inter-professional and collaborative learning
- Provision of contextualised training
- Improving access to evidence based medicine and reflective learning
Since the global launch of the report in Rio, Brazil, it has been very well received by many, including governments, policy makers, and health workers. The report provides key recommendations going forward, such as the adoption of technology driven, collaborative, inter-professional learning and increased financial support for primary care training. These recommendations have been further supported by the clear emphasis on health workforce strengthening at the recent World Health Assembly. However, if we are to achieve Universal Health Coverage, these recommendations now need to be adopted.
Images courtesy of Kunal Patel.