Press Release: 'It is time to stand up and be counted'

Monday, 31 March 2014

Ascot, United Kingdom, 31 March 2014 – This was the call from Stephen Murby Wright, Consumers Health Forum of Australia during a multi-stakeholder panel discussion during the International Alliance of Patients’ Organization’s (IAPO) 6th Global Patients Congress, held in the UK on 29-31 March 2014. This was supported by Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), UK Government, in her keynote address, who emphasised the importance of patient and public involvement: ‘Healthcare research should be carried out by and with members of the public, not just done for or to the public.’

The theme of the Congress explored: ‘Better access, better health: A patient-centred approach to universal health coverage’. Delegates explored the role of the patient in defining and implementing universal health coverage globally. A wide range of stakeholders, including patients, policy-makers, healthcare professionals, academics and industry representatives discussed the challenges in achieving healthcare for all. Dr Hernan Montenegro, Health Systems Advisor at the World Health Organization declared that: ‘Universal health coverage is a vision which can identify all the different actors’ but that in its implementation, ‘there is no single magic solution, everything has to be context specific, tailored to the local reality.’
Dr Otmar Kloiber, Secretary General of the World Medical Association stated that: ‘It is complete nonsense to talk about healthcare as a cost item, let’s talk about the value of healthcare for the people and for the economy.’ This sentiment was echoed by patient representatives on the previous day who worked together to develop global principles of universal health coverage. Patient representatives emphasised that no system is truly universal if it is not providing equitable, high quality, affordable access to healthcare.  These are the three pillars of universal health coverage. To improve access to healthcare for all, patients need to be involved in the design and delivery of healthcare.  For this, patients need a strong, unified voice, as Margaret Murphy, External Lead Advisor, WHO Patients for Patient Safety stated: ‘I like to look on us rather like the piece of grit in the oyster causing sufficient irritation to bring about the pearl – the pearl of healthcare improvement.’ Delegates agreed that patients are increasingly working together, and with other stakeholders, to achieve access to healthcare for all.

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