World Health Report: Research Vital to Achieving Universal Coverage: Public Health News from around the World

Article excerpt

COUNTRIES MUST continue to invest in research if they want move toward a goal of universal health coverage, according to the World Health Organization.

In its "World Health Report 2013: Research for Universal Health Coverage," which was released in August, authors stated that "research for universal health coverage is not a luxury; rather it is fundamental to the discovery, development and delivery of interventions that people need to maintain good health." The aim of the report is to identify research questions that will lead the way toward universal health coverage and offer lessons on creating environments conducive to such research. In a news release announcing the report, WHO Director-general Margaret Chan, MD, MPH, called universal coverage, "the best way to cement the health gains made during the previous decade," and said it is "a powerful social equalizer and the ultimate expression of fairness."

"This is a state-of-the-art report on health research and on investigative tools and networks that can help countries make the right decisions as they move toward universal health coverage," Chan said. "It set out the scientific research agenda needed to translate the growing commitment to universal coverage into evidence-based action."

The report highlights two groups of research questions. The first zeroes in on how to choose the types of health services needed with each setting, how to improve coverage of services and financial protection for residents, and how to protect and strengthen people's health. The second group of questions focuses on evaluating progress toward universal coverage in each setting and for each population. While it would be incredibly difficult to measure coverage of the hundreds of services and interventions that make up a health system, the report's authors note that it is possible to choose a subset of services that can be representative of progress. …