September 22, 2021

Expanding access to health services with self-care interventions

2 min read
By 2035, there will be an estimated shortage of nearly 13 million healthcare workers. Around 1 in 5 of the world’s population will be living in settings that are experiencing humanitarian crises.

At least 400 million people worldwide lack access to the most essential health services, according to a World Health Organization report.

By 2035, there will be an estimated shortage of nearly 13 million healthcare workers. Around 1 in 5 of the world’s population will be living in settings that are experiencing humanitarian crises.

At the same time, new diagnostics, devices, drugs and digital innovations are transforming how people interact with the health sector.

In response to this, WHO has launched its first guideline on self-care interventions for health, with a focus in this first volume on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Some of the interventions include self-sampling for HPV and sexually transmitted infections, self-injectable contraceptives, home-based ovulation predictor kits, HIV self-testing and self-management of medical abortion.

These guidelines look at the scientific evidence for health benefits of certain interventions that can be done outside the conventional health sector, although sometimes with the support of a health-care provider.  They do not replace high-quality health services nor are they a shortcut to achieving universal health coverage.

Self care is “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider”.

Self-care interventions represent a significant push towards new and greater self-efficacy, autonomy and engagement in health for self-carers and caregivers. In launching this guideline, WHO recognizes how self-care interventions could expand access to health services, including for vulnerable populations. People are increasingly active participants in their own health care and have a right to a greater choice of interventions that meets their needs across their lifetime, but also should be able to access, control, and have affordable options to manage their health and well-being.

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