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Self-care policies (international)

Gonçalo Sousa Pinto BSc MA

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Self-care is internationally recognised as of paramount importance to individuals, populations and to healthcare systems. This is reflected in seminal publications from many august international bodies. 

Link to paper

WHO guideline on self-care interventions for health and well-being, 2022 revision

World Health Organization, Guidelines Review Committee, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research (SRH)

A global shortage of an estimated 10 million health workers is anticipated by 2030, a record 130 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and there is the global threat of pandemics such as COVID-19. At least 400 million people worldwide lack access to the most essential health services, and every year 100 million people are plunged into poverty because they have to pay for healthcare out of their own pockets.
There is, therefore, an urgent need to find innovative strategies that go beyond the conventional health-sector response. These interventions are also relevant for all three areas of the Thirteenth General Programme of Work of the World Health Organization.
WHO recommends self-care interventions for every country and economic setting as critical components on the path to reaching universal health coverage (UHC), promoting health, keeping the world safe and serving the vulnerable.

WHO guideline on self-care interventions for health and well-being, 2022 revision. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2022. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

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WHO Self-care competency framework (3 volumes) Volume 1: Global competency standards for health and care workers to support people’s self-care

World Health Organization, Guidelines Review Committee, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research (SRH)

These standards (Volume 1) define 10 key competencies for health and care workers to support self-care in their clinical practice as well as the specific, measurable behaviours that demonstrate those competencies, focusing on people-centredness; decision-making; effective communication; collaboration; evidence-informed practice, and personal conduct.

Self-care competency framework. Volume 1. Global competency standards for health and care workers to support people’s self-care. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2023 (Self-care competency framework). Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

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WHO Self-care competency framework Volume 2: knowledge guide for health and care workers to support people’s self-care

World Health Organization, Guidelines Review Committee, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research (SRH)

The knowledge guide is the second volume in the Self-care competency framework to support health and care workers. This describes how health and care workers can apply each of the 10 competency standards in their work, detailing the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes that underpin the required behaviours.

Self-care competency framework. Volume 1. Global competency standards for health and care workers to support people’s self-care. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2023 (Self-care competency framework). Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO

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WHO Self-care competency framework Volume 3: Curriculum guide for health and care workers to support people’s self-care

World Health Organization, Guidelines Review Committee, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research (SRH)

The curriculum guide is the third volume in the Self-care competency framework to support health and care workers. It is a resource for educational institutions and curriculum developers to develop competency-based education and training for health and care workers.

Self-care competency framework. Volume 1. Global competency standards for health and care workers to support people’s self-care. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2023 (Self-care competency framework). Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

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Self-care interventions for sexual and reproductive health and rights to advance universal health coverage: 2023 joint statement by HRP, WHO, UNDP, UNFPA and the World Bank

World Health Organization, Guidelines Review Committee, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research (SRH)

According to the latest available data, over half of the world’s population lack access to essential health services, and health worker shortages are estimated to reach 10 million by 2030. These contextual factors point to an urgent need to explore innovative strategies – that go beyond a conventional health-sector response – for reaching people with the health services they need. Self-care interventions offer huge potential to enhance individual agency and reduce health inequities by increasing the availability of accessible, acceptable and affordable health-care options that are in addition to and can complement services and care received at a healthcare facility. As we reach the half-way mark towards the end of the 15-year Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) period, and we look at the challenges facing the world, we need to embrace potentially transformative solutions. WHO recommends self-care interventions for every country and economic setting, as critical tools on a path to improve primary health care, reach universal health coverage (UHC), promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

Self-care interventions for sexual and reproductive health and rights to advance universal health coverage: 2023 joint statement by HRP, WHO, UNDP, UNFPA and the World Bank. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2023. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO licence.

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Community pharmacy insights: Supporting the need for self-care. A FIP Multinational Needs Assessment Programme report

International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)

This report took evidence from both an online questionnaire and short interviews aimed at describing pharmacists’ understanding of self-care. The report assesses further needs related to education and training and investigates the role of pharmacists in using digital self-care tools and healthcare technologies. It also captures insights into support that patients need from the community pharmacy team to manage their own self-care conditions.

International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). Community pharmacy insights: supporting the need for self-care. The Hague: International Pharmaceutical Federation; 2023. ISBN: 9789083092881

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Empowering self-care: A handbook for pharmacists

International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)

This handbook aims to provide the pharmacy workforce with relevant and concise guidance on coaching practices and person-centred approaches to promoting and engaging in self-care. It discusses current trends and strategies in self-care and explores the implications, innovations and approaches adopted across several practice areas. It also aims to support and engage the frontline pharmacy workforce to overcome the barriers, challenges and realities of self-care while exploring the extent of all its potential benefits, especially those that contribute to the vision for UHC.

International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). Empowering self-care: A handbook for pharmacists. The Hague: International Pharmaceutical Federation; 2022.

Link to paper

Pharmacy as a gateway to care: Helping people towards better health

International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)

This reference paper reviews the current state of consumer interest in health care and presents a collection of evidence of pharmacy services related to self-care and the value that pharmacists bring to health care systems in this way. It lays out the drivers of self-care and profound changes in the way health care systems operate.

International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). Pharmacy as a gateway to care: Helping people towards better health: Helping people towards better health. The Hague: International Pharmaceutical Federation; 2017.

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FIP Statement of Policy “Pharmacy: Gateway to Care”

International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)

This statement underscores the importance and benefits of self-care. It recognises both the personal responsibility of patients to enhance and maintain their own health and well-being, and the responsibility of pharmacists to support patients in self-care activities. Appropriate support by pharmacists will assist patients in improved or maintained health, greater health self-efficacy, and higher economic efficiency.

International Pharmaceutical Federation. FIP Statement of Policy - Pharmacy: Gateway to Care. The Hague: FIP, 2017.

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Open letter to UN member states for the inclusion of self-care in the UHC agenda

Self-Care Trailblazer Group

Several organisations joined the Global Self-Care Federation in calling on United Nations Member States to put #selfcare at the heart of the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (#UHC) agenda. Self-care – the ability to manage your health with or without the support of a healthcare provider – is an undeniable aspect of individual health behaviour and an important and growing component of health systems. Ensuring the political declaration on UHC explicitly and directly acknowledges and champions the vital role of self-care will support country-level efforts to institutionalize self-care within national health systems through supportive policies, programmes, financing, and regulations.

Self-care Trailblazer Group. Open letter to UN member states for the inclusion of self-care in the UHC agenda. 12 June 2023.

Link to paper

Joint Statement of Policy by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) and the Global Self-Care Federation (GSCF) on Responsible and Effective Self-care

FIP and GSCF

The objective of this statement is to describe the united role and intention of the pharmacy profession and industry in delivering solutions to people to facilitate self-care and in engaging with stakeholders including governments to further develop self-care as a core pillar of sustainable healthcare systems. This statement considers regulated or evidence-based selfcare products designed to promote good health, or to prevent and/or to treat ill health through self-care, and to achieve positive outcomes for people’s health. In this context, pharmacists play a key role when assisting individuals as they can provide unbiased, evidence-based advice and information about regulated or evidence-based self-care products and services available.

International Pharmaceutical Federation and Global Self-Care Federation. Joint FIP/GSCF Statement of Policy on Responsible and Effective Self-care. The Hague: FIP/GSCF, 2019.

Link to paper

The Role of Self-Care in Universal Health Coverage

Global Self-Care Federation

This statement makes the case of why integrating selfcare into UHC is essential because it can improve health outcomes and reduce the current burden placed on healthcare systems.

Global Self-Care Federation, 2019. The Role of Self-Care in Universal Health Coverage.

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São Paulo Declaration on Self-Care for Universal Health Coverage

United For Self-Care Coalition, Global Self-Care Federation

The Sao Paulo Declaration reflects the commitment of regional policymakers, Ministries of Health within the Latin American Region, and the United for Self-Care Coalition Members to improving the well-being of people worldwide through advancing self-care as an essential component of UHC. *The Declaration underscores a dedication to the principles of Universal Health Coverage, including equitable access to healthcare services, financial protection, and the promotion of public health. The main areas of action include commitments to: *Promote self-care for Primary Health Care and Universal Health Coverage *Support self-care education and awareness *Leverage technology and digital solutions * Strengthen collaboration and partnerships *Ensure equity and inclusivity *Advocate for better self-governance *Monitor progress and accountability

United For Self-Care Coalition, 2023. São Paulo Declaration on Self-Care for Universal Health Coverage.

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