Research for stronger health systems during and after crisis

Universal Health Coverage in Emergencies – a Call to Action

Friday, 18 May 2018

Watch Tim Martineau's presentation here

Monday 21st May, World Health Assembly, Palais des Nations, Geneva (12.30 – 14.00 CEST)

Follow sections of this event live on the day! - through our Periscope TV channel -

ReBUILD is delighted to be part of this official side event at the 71st World Health Assembly, organised by the governments of Switzerland and Afghanistan, addressing the hugely important area of equitable and safe access to health care in emergency and humanitarian contexts – challenges which our research activities have been trying to help inform.

Tim Martineau will represent ReBUILD and the HSG Thematic Working Group on Health Systems in Fragile and Conflict Affected States on an expert panel, alongside representatives from the WHO, World Bank and the IFRC.

More details on this side event are given below, but as well as a process for a Call to Action to address UHC issues in emergency settings, the session will include country experiences from Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Guinea and Central African Republic, before the moderated expert Q & A discussion.

Along with our partners at Chatham House and UHC2030, we will be taking forward relevant issues from this meeting to help inform a briefing paper on UHC challenges in emergencies, protracted crises and the transition periods after conflict. This will be an important resource to feed in to our co-hosted session - Leaving no one behind; how can evidence-based approaches support progress towards UHC and global health goals during conflict and protracted crises? at the Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Liverpool this October.


More on this WHA 71 side event: UHC in Emergencies - a Call to Action


To deliver on our commitment to the goals of universal health coverage and leaving no one behind, we must redouble efforts to expand access and improve the quality of essential lifesaving health services, without risk of financial hardship, to over a billion people affected by fragility and conflict. This number is projected to rise to 1.9 billion by 2030.

Moreover, as the WHO DG Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus has said, health systems are being attacked in the very places where they are needed most, undermining any efforts to achieve UHC, producing additional fatalities, exacerbating the humanitarian case load, depriving communities access to essential care resulting in a measurable increase in mortality.

There is an urgent need for more coherent approaches to expand coverage in conflict and crisis affected situations, bringing together humanitarian and development actors to help strengthen the health system and build resilience to scale and sustain core public health capacities, whilst supporting and in some cases delivering, essential lifesaving interventions. Despite significant normative progress on the agenda of attacks on health care, and with WHO having rolled out its Surveillance System on Attacks on Health, more still needs to be done to put the recommendations of Security Council Resolution 2286 into practice. 

Image: DRC cholera preparedness. Credit WHO / H Komerwa

The session

This side event on the Opening Day of the 71st World Health Assembly will raise the profile of the UHC agenda in emergencies.

The co-organizers Switzerland and Afghanistan will suggest a process for developing a concrete Call for Action. The session will include interventions including country experiences from Afghanistan, the Netherlands, Guinea, Central African Republic and Canada, and a moderated expert Q & A discussion.

It is a multi-stakeholder event, bringing together Member States, the World Health Organisation, the World Bank Group, the International Health Partnership for UHC 2030 (UHC2030), the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the ReBUILD Consortium, and Chatham House. Outputs from the session will be taken forward by organising partners as part of other activities to increase understanding and support operationalisation of UHC commitments in these most challenging settings.

Download event flyer here.

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