Opening remarks by the WHO Director-General at the Virtual Leadership Dialogue for Social Participation – World


WR estimates,

Dear colleagues and friends,

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that societies are only as well protected as their most vulnerable members.

But also, as we well know at WHO, empowered and educated communities are one of the best defenses against threats to health.

Universal health coverage is at the heart of WHO’s mission to promote health, ensure the world’s security and serve the vulnerable.

That’s why our goal is to extend the benefits of UHC to an additional one billion people.

UHC involves access to quality health services for all – rich and poor, healthy and sick, young and old – without fear of financial hardship.

The road to UHC rests on a foundation of strong government engagement with communities, especially the most vulnerable.

At the heart of this commitment is constructive dialogue with those whom the health system serves.

It is essentially a social contract for UHC, based on the idea that health is not the product of strong and prosperous nations; this is the way.

And the best way to protect and promote the health of a population is to ensure that all of its inhabitants can access the health services they need, where and when they need them, without incurring excessive costs. or debilitating debt.

The WHO Handbook on Social Participation for Universal Health Coverage provides countries with a valuable tool to stimulate constructive discussions between those who control the health system and those who benefit from it.

It provides practical advice to policy makers to address the challenges of convening hard-to-reach population groups; to negotiate dialogue; and to address power imbalances.

In short, this manual discusses the “how to” of systematic government engagement with communities and civil society.

It contains concrete examples to build on, including community engagement in Madagascar and India;

engagement of civil society in Burkina Faso, Mexico and Portugal;

and population consultations in France and Tunisia, to name but a few.

No matter how big or small, rich or poor a country may be, social participation is relevant for all Member States.

Supporting countries to include community and civil society voices in policymaking is essential to ensure that no one is left behind and to establish the most vital component of a resilient health system. : trust.

Thank you and I wish you a productive discussion.

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