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Advanced Leadership Role For Nurses Is Key To Expanding Universal Health Coverage, Says QF’s WISH

Training nurses to be better equipped for future roles can be a foundation for rapid, cost-effective expansion of high-quality universal health coverage (UHC), says Sultana Afdhal, CEO of the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), Qatar Foundation’s global health initiative.

The WISH CEO was addressing the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) during a virtual Pre-World Health Assembly (PreWHA) 2020. More than 60 young,― global health advocates participated in the comprehensive training workshop ahead of the 73rd World Health Assembly. WISH is a strategic partner of IFMSA ― the official representative organization of medical students to the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1969.

Focusing her talk on Leadership and Governance under the pillar of UHC, one of the six building blocks of the WHO health systems framework, Afdhal highlighted the local impact of WISH’s global research in positively shaping Qatar’s implementation of UHC for all its residents.

She advocated for more emphasis to be given to service delivery, the promotion of health, and prevention of disease in UHC policy, which can be achieved through investment in the healthcare workforce.

“Nurses have already taken on advanced and specialist roles and are well positioned to meet changing health needs. We need to enable them, resource them, and support them, so they can deliver increased levels of health care, including disease prevention, and also to support the supervision of community healthcare workers,” she argued. Following the 2018 Nursing and Midwifery Report, WISH has launched several projects locally and globally to bring the role of nurses to the fore, including the formation of Nursing Now Qatar, in partnership with the Ministry of Public Health.

Drawing on the 2015 WISH report Delivering Universal Health Coverage: A Guide for Policymakers, Afdhal went on to note that “Designing and implementing UHC programs is not a one-size-fits-all process, and even proven programs that succeed in one country may not fit into other cultures and settings.”

Qatar overcame this challenge during the roll out of the “SMART Clinic”, a model of care for diabetes patients created by WISH out of the findings of the Accountable Care Report, which was so successful that it was implemented for other health conditions and inducted into Qatar’s National Health Strategy. It served to highlight that while reform can change the landscape of effective health service delivery, “as in the case of the SMART Clinic, it does not always require extra resources but simply to adapt and change the system for greater efficacy.”

Her final key message was the need for cost-effective, high-impact healthcare infrastructure that delivers to every part of the community, as discussed in the 2016 WISH report Investing in Health: The Economic Case.

Illustrating the point, she said: “In Qatar, we have a separate healthcare system for male migrant workers. The hospitals and health care centers serving these worker communities are focused only on their needs and use their most widely spoken languages. This is Qatar’s investment in making sure the whole population has their needs adequately met by our healthcare system.”

Commenting on the significance of sponsoring the IFMSA workshop, Afdhal said: “WISH is actively supporting healthcare through global collaborations, despite the lockdown. It’s been energizing to contribute to this important platform for young health advocates and share perspectives that are enriching the global discourse on complex issues, including how we can achieve universal health coverage.”

She concluded by highlighting the forthcoming WISH summit taking place in November, adding: “Her Highness Sheikha Moza’s vision for WISH was to provide a platform to bring together world leaders and address pressing healthcare challenges. To this end, we’ve built a global community of leaders in healthcare policy, research, and industry. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, our mission has never been so prominent.”

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