Parliamentarians for Universal Health Coverage in the Eastern Mediterranean Region #Parliamentarians4UHC
Parliamentarians play an essential role in public health through approving public policies and plans, enacting supportive legislation, negotiating and approving budgets and monitoring and providing oversight to ensure government accountability and transparency according to agreed targets and plans. With the above-mentioned roles in mind, an Advisory Group - formed of parliamentarians, health systems experts, government officials and researchers - was convened by WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) to increase parliamentarians’ awareness of policies and recommendations regarding the Sustainable Development Agenda and Universal Heath Coverage (UHC), as well as exchange experiences and lessons learned and discuss potential mechanisms for the promotion of the role of parliamentarians in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) to advance towards UHC. The created Advisory Groupfocused on developing a roadmap to enhance roles and capacities of parliamentarians to advance towards UHC,developing a plan of action to promote inter-country collaboration on common areas of interest, and discussing the potential creation of a “Regional Parliamentarian Forum for UHC” in the EMR.
During their meeting last October in Jordan, the Advisory Group discussed the existing global, regional and national parliamentary structures and mechanisms; the roles and functions of parliamentarians and how these functions can be employed to achieve UHC; and the required capacities for parliamentarians to advance towards UHC. By sharing their diverse country experiences and existing bottlenecks in the EMR to advance towards UHC, the Advisory Group members realized that although they have different country contexts, parliamentarians face similar challenges and gaps in undertaking their roles and functions.
A subsequent meeting was organized by WHO EMRO last November in Beirut, Lebanon. It was led by parliamentarians from 15 countries in the EMR, along with representatives from the Advisory Group, global and regional parliamentary institutions and international organizations. The meeting witnessed an extensive disussion on the next steps to create a “Regional Parliamentarian Forum for UHC” and organize its first meeting during the first half of 2019.
As parliamentarians and members of the Advisory Group, we invite you to share with us your reflections on how the Regional Parliamentary Forum could face the identified challenges and act in a sustainable effective manner to:
- Promote parliamentarians’ access to strategic evidence to guide their decisions for quality and affordable health services for all;
- Promote a continuous policy dialogue between parliamentarians and government for a better translation of constitutional commitments into actions;
- Facilitate parliamentarians’ engagement with other stakeholders including civil society, relevant forums and academia;
- Support mechanisms and approaches to enhance parliamentarians’ capacities for better engagement to advance towards UHC; and
- Exchange experiences and lessons learned with other parliamentarians from the region and beyond.
Dr Souhail Alouini & Dr Magdy Morshed