Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Latin America: the role of quality of care research

The Academy of Medical Sciences and the Academia Nacional de Medicina of Argentina held a policy workshop on Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Latin America: the role of quality of care research online on the 6-7 October. 

Status: Completed

The Academy of Medical Sciences and the Academia Nacional de Medicina of Argentina are convening a policy workshop on Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Latin America: the role of quality of care research online on the 6-7 October 2020. 

The livestream of day two of the workshop is available below:

The World Health Organization estimates that at least half of the world’s population still lack full coverage of essential health services. The global commitment towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has been affirmed as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UHC means that all individuals and communities should have access to the full spectrum of essential and effective health services including promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care without suffering financial hardship.

Current data suggests that in many low- and middle-income countries, the quality of care provided is sub-optimal. Quality of care is defined by the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes, are person-centred and are in line with current health research knowledge. An opportunity exists for quality of care to be built into the foundation of UHC and into policies, processes and institutions as health systems are developed and services scaled up. Ensuring that the care being provided is of high quality, safeguards patient safety, and is responsive to the specific needs and life circumstances of patients will be essential to creating trust in the health system and will require engagement with communities and patients.

Poor quality care not only carries a high cost in terms of lives lost and reduced quality of life but it also carries a high financial cost as it wastes precious resources which could be invested into other important drivers of socioeconomic development. Achieving high quality UHC will also help countries make progress towards the other SDGs as healthier people and children are able to work, learn and be more productive. Poor quality care often disproportionately affects vulnerable groups including the poor, people with conditions that are stigmatised and people who are less educated. UHC is an important step towards social inclusion and equity; access to quality health care is a right not a privilege.

Many barriers exist which prevent health care workers, providers and policymakers from offering high quality health care. Research and evaluation is an essential part of achieving quality UHC by determining the opportunities and challenges, and assessing progress. Further research, including policy and implementation research, is necessary to understand these barriers better and drive innovation to develop new approaches to transform low-quality health systems into high-quality systems. Furthermore, measuring and evaluating progress provides valuable insight for policymakers and is essential to improvement. Quality of care can be measured by seven elements of quality; effectiveness, safety, timeliness, equity, person-centeredness, care integration and efficiency.

The main objective of this workshop is to establish the progress made towards achieving quality UHC in Latin America and consider the role that research can play in improving the quality of care provided. In addition, the workshop will provide a platform for countries in the region to share knowledge of what hasn’t worked and of successful approaches which have led to an increase in quality of care. To achieve this, our aims are as follows:

  • Identify tools and innovation that could accelerate progress to improve the quality of care.
  • Identify country specific and shared research challenges and barriers to achieving quality UHC.
  • Provide a platform for different countries to share their research experiences, challenges and successes to allow countries to learn from one another.
  • Agree on a list of research priorities and solutions to overcome the identified barriers which can be addressed on at a regional level.
  • Impact policy uptake, specifically through the use of science and investment in research and research leadership.

Following the workshop, a written report will be produced and disseminated to UK and stakeholders within the region with identified next steps to help improve quality of care in Latin America. 

Click here to find out more about our previous GCRF workshops including our workshop on Achieving Universal Health Coverage in LMICs: the role of quality of care research and read the workshop reports.

This workshop is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund that aims to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. Visit our GCRF webpage to read more about the fund. 



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