Blazing a New Trail for Self-Care

Ensuring affordable basic health coverage for all calls for us to develop health systems that put more care and control in consumers’ hands.

One way we’re giving consumers more control is ‘self-care’—defined by the WHO as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote, maintain health, prevent disease and cope with illness with or without the support of a health care provider.”

While self-care is not new, there is growing momentum in this field. Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working to produce ground-breaking global guidelines for self-care in sexual and reproductive health (SRH). Slated for launch in summer 2019, the guidelines will provide countries with direction on how to implement self-care in policy and practice.

To capitalize on this effort and advocate in support of these guidelines, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Population Services International have initiated the Self-Care Trailblazer Group. In addition to a forum for partners to amplify their work and share knowledge and expertise, this is a unique opportunity to harness our collective voices as we, together, inform and drive toward institutionalization of self-care.

Although self-care presents many facets, exciting new developments in the SRH field provide an opportunity to refocus attention on this important and evolving approach. New devices, drugs, diagnostics and digital health tools (i.e., the 4Ds) allow users, where applicable, to assess and manage their own SRH needs – particularly regarding modern contraception, fertility and HIV and STIs. Self-care interventions are well-positioned to make a valuable contribution to the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC), including the broader implications for human rights, gender, equity and financial sustainability.

That’s why the Trailblazer Group will bring together various stakeholders, including representatives of international organizations, the donor community, governments, civil society, implementers and the private sector. Together, we will:

  • Lead a unified communications and advocacy effort in support of the WHO guidelines for self-care.
  • Advance learnings and contribute to building the evidence base around self-care and serve as a catalyst for plugging identified research gaps.
  • Build a practice for developing, sharing, and applying concrete solutions for self-care.

Over the next 3-4 months, the Trailblazer Group will play a key role in promoting and supporting the rollout of the guidelines, including uniting our voices and coordinating activities at critical global events – not limited to the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May and Women Deliver in June 2019 – as well as engagements at the regional and national level.

Banner image:

A woman in Senegal holds subcutaneous DMPA (DMPA-SC or brand name Sayana ® Press) in both hands. Subcutaneous DMPA is a lower-dose, all-in-one injectable contraceptive that is administered every three months under the skin into the fat rather than into the muscle.

© 2016 PATH/Gabe Bienczycki, Courtesy of Photoshare

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