Strengthening primary care is the most effective way to ensure universal health coverage, according to a report by the International Council of Nurses (ICN).
The paper, called ‘Nursing advocacy and influence in global health policy’, draws upon interventions from the ICN at the 76th World Health Assembly earlier this year.
The council calls for governments, together with other country-level leaders, to embed universal health coverage in their national health policy frameworks and budgets.
Nursing policy considerations outlined in the report include the reorientation and integration of health systems towards primary care, community and home-based care, public health and patient-centred care.
According to the ICN, this is necessary in promoting health and wellbeing, and nurses are ‘well placed to lead transformative changes that are required for integrated person-centred care across the continuum’.
Investing in nursing solutions will reduce the pressure on health systems as well as ensure better health and wellbeing for people worldwide, the report added.
The ICN also called for nursing services to be ‘empowered’ with information systems, technology and decision-making tools to provide ‘new opportunities for social interactions, health literacy, knowledge-sharing and more effective, efficient service provision’.
Howard Catton, ICN chief executive, highlighted the need for investment in the nursing workforce in order to deliver universal health coverage and effective primary health care, and address the growing challenge of mental health.
‘The big lesson governments should have learned from the pandemic was that our health systems were simply not well enough prepared, [and] specifically there has not been enough investment in our nurses,’ Mr Catton said.
‘It seems that governments have not learned the lessons, and if we don’t see investment in nursing as part of strengthening our health systems for the future, we will fail to achieve the ambitions for improved global health,’ he added.
The ICN recently hosted a webinar focusing on the central role of nurses in primary health care in achieving the goal of universal health coverage by 2030. The webinar called for investment in primary healthcare and the need for an effective, sufficiently skilled and properly funded healthcare workforce.
The Department of Health and Social Care declined the opportunity to comment on the report.