The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed health systems across the world and has triggered a global surge in demand for health services. In response, all countries are striving to increase their emergency preparedness and response capacity while also maintaining their essential health services. The need to effectively address this surge in healthcare demand has forced many governments to look beyond the public health service delivery system and engage more effectively with the private sector.
Recognizing the importance of a coordinated effort against COVID-19, WHO called on national governments everywhere to adopt a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to build resilient UHC oriented health systems and prepare for future health emergencies. The private sector’s involvement in this effort has been significant in scale and scope; therefore, efforts towards UHC cannot ignore its stewardship.
Countries with pre-existing mechanisms of private sector engagement demonstrated a more effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic compared to those without established mechanisms of engagement. Even though low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) work with private actors outside the health system, engagement with the private health sector remains uneven, across types and location of providers. Private sector engagement also involves risks, with governance and regulatory arrangements often not designed to effectively manage and coordinate mixed health systems.
Seizing the opportunity of the upcoming United Nations High-Level Meetings centred on UHC, TB and pandemic preparedness in September 2023 and the updated UHC2030 Action Agenda, world leaders have a unique opportunity to reinvigorate the role of the private sector in strengthening UHC to forge national and international resilience and improve health security.
The Centre of Universal Health in collaboration with the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) is organizing a roundtable to bring together leading stakeholders in the UHC dialogue, including from multinational organizations, governments, civil society representatives and the private sector, to set up a strategic discussion regarding the contributions of different stakeholders towards UHC.
The event is by invitation only and under the CH Rule.