Webinar No. 1 - 23 April, 2021: Access barriers to achieve universal health in the era of COVID-19

As COVID-19 has highlighted, some people are able to have better access to health services than others – mainly due to numerous barriers that hamper access to needed health services. All over the world, some groups have little or no access to quality and comprehensive health services. This leads to unnecessary suffering, avoidable illness, and premature death. And it harms our societies and economies.

The goal of universal health can only be achieved if existing barriers to health needs are identified and addressed. And health system strengthening policies need to be responsive to barriers to health services among vulnerable population groups. To help countries in the Americas achieve universal health, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) launched the Regional Compact on Primary Health Care for Universal Health: PHC 30-30-30, which highlights the central role of PHC and the need to eliminate barriers to access.

In that regard, the Department of Health Systems and Services (HSS) is organizing a webinar aimed to strengthen regional awareness around the need to identify access barriers and design health system policies that are responsive to the obstacles faced by vulnerable population groups.

Key messages of the webinar

  • Urge leaders to monitor inequities in access barriers, and to ensure that all people can access quality health services when and where they need them.
  • Call for strengthening assessment of access barriers to progress towards universal health in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.  
  • Showcase best practices and methodological tools to evaluate access barriers and facilitate health policy development.

Speakers and topics

  • Jarbas Barbosa. Assistant Director, PAHO/WHO
  • James Fitzgerald. Director of Health Systems and Services, PAHO/WHO
  • Natalia Houghton, Specialist on Health Systems and Services Analysis, Monitoring and Evaluation, PAHO/WHO Access barriers that hinder the achievement of universal health in the Americas: situation and public policy implications.
    (PDF, Natalia Houghton presentation)3.16 MB
  • Theadora Swift Koller, Senior Technical Advisor on Equity, WHO Global initiatives and experiences in the identification and addressing of access barriers: applications for the Americas.
    (pdf, Theadora Swift Koller presentation)1008.32 KB
  • Frederico Guanais, Deputy Head of the Health Division, OECD Access barriers and experiences in primary health care in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    (PDF, Frederico Guanais presentation)926.78 KB

Questions and Answers

  • Ernesto Bascolo, Advisor on Health Governance, Leadership, Policy and Planning, PAHO/WHO