Routes to Universal Health Coverage explored at Christ Church

On 27 and 28 September Professor Mike English, Senior Associate Research Fellow at Christ Church, and the former Nuffield Trust Director Professor Nigel Edwards convened a meeting at Christ Church to share and debate ideas on the role of hospitals in achieving the World Health Organization goal of Universal Health Coverage. 

Professors English and Edwards were joined by experts from the World Bank and a number of World Health Organization offices, together with senior academics from the UK and senior and early-career academics from low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Africa. 

The premise of the meeting was that the role of smaller, typically general hospitals serving local primary care referral needs is a neglected area of scholarship and debate in global health despite the district hospital being defined as a key element of primary healthcare systems in the original 1978 Alma-Ata Declaration on health for all. 

Participants explored together issues of financing and governance, service organisation and service redesign, human resources and skill mix, patient experiences, and community engagement in promoting responsive healthcare provision. 

Conference discussing Universal Health Coverage

While participants paid special attention to First Referral of ‘District’ Hospitals and the essential hospital services that are likely needed in low- and middle-income countries, they also explored how hospital care has evolved and is continuing to evolve in higher income settings in response to widely shared global opportunities and challenges. These include changes in disease patterns, the age profile of patients, the rise in multi-morbidity and the role of new technologies in extending the scope of services and their redesign as new forms of care emerge.

We’d like to thank everyone who joined us in Oxford to participate in this important discussion.