IAPO congress 9-11 April (press release)

Patients take universal health coverage into their own hands

150 patients’ advocates from 48 countries are meeting in London to discuss how innovation can help achieve universal, patient-centred and sustainable access to healthcare around the world.

Patients’ groups, academics and health organisations will meet at the 7th Global Patients Congress, from 9-11 April, to share innovative best practice, research and to highlight specific examples of how to improve healthcare access across countries and contexts. Topics will include new approaches to community mobilisation, health professional-led innovation in disaster and conflict areas, strengthening health systems and patient involvement in drug development.

The adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals has pushed universal health coverage (UHC) – where all people receive the health services they need, without suffering financial hardship when paying for them – to the front of the health agenda. Every UN member state has agreed to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all’ by 2030, which gives patients the timescale and the means to hold them to account. Many patients are taking the challenge of universal health coverage into their own hands by sharing new ideas which already improve healthcare in their communities.

Innovative approaches are improving patient experience, choice of treatment options and outcomes across the world. New examples are constantly surfacing: virtual patient communities now provide greater access to information and peer support, crowd-funding helps patients pay for the research they want to see, and social media helps to normalise different conditions and reduce stigma. These developments are changing the face of healthcare. Patients are more informed, more involved, and more engaged in working collaboratively with others to change health systems for good.

Jolanta Bilińska, Chair of the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations, said:

‘History will judge governments against whether universal health coverage is achieved by 2030, but the responsibility lies with everyone involved in healthcare, including patients. Patients have an ethical and moral right to be involved in all decisions about their care, and bring new ideas which can’t be replicated by any other group. Patients are already changing healthcare with innovative approaches. Decision-makers at every level must do everything possible to listen to and embrace the patient voice.’

The International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations will host the 7th Global Patients Congress in London, 9-11 April. Patients and patients’ groups will share further examples of patient-led innovation in healthcare throughout the event. Find out more at www.iapo.org.uk/GPC2016