As part of the effort to achieve WHO’s Global Programme of Work (GPW) ambition of one billion more people benefitting from UHC by 2030, a recommendation of the report of the WHO Task Team on WHO-Civil Society Engagement was for WHO to specifically emphasize and promote civil society participation in policy processes and provide guidance for Member States to do so

The WHO Handbook on Social Participation for Universal Health Coverage recognizes the importance of the role of civil society and communities, in addition to governments, by responding to this recommendation, and aims to strengthen government engagement with populations, communities and civil society. The participation of civil society and communities in planning and policy making is intrinsically linked to good health governance, a prerequisite for Universal Health Coverage. Thus, the aim of the handbook is to help governments engage civil society organizations and communities to improve the design, implementation and follow-up of national policy, planning and review processes. 

The team synthesized available peer-reviewed literature and findings from nine country case studies across the world. A consultation on the handbook, with inputs from Ahimsa, was further conducted to draw largely on the available knowledge and hands-on experience from civil society actors in participatory governance processes. More information about the handbook project can be found here. The full handbook version will be made available on the WHO’s website in Q1 2021. 

Dheepa Rajan
Health Systems Adviser, World Health Organization
Kira Koch (on the photo taken during the Ahimsa forum in June 2019)
Technical Officer, Health Systems Governance and Financing, World Health Organization