Fifty-eighth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, 10-14 September 2007, Jeju, Republic of Korea
Jeju, Republic of Korea, 13 September 2007— The World Health Organization (WHO) is spearheading a move to make health care systems in Asia safer, holistic and people-centred.
WHO is concerned that health systems and services have become so disease focused, technology driven and doctor dominated that they fail to respond to patient needs and expectations.
In response, the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, in collaboration with the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia, drafted People-Centred Health Care: A Policy Framework to ensure that broader psychological, social, ethical and cultural determinants of health are also taken into account. The framework provides practical guidelines to Member States in reorienting their health systems. The draft framework is expected to be endorsed by WHO's Regional Committee, which is meeting here.
Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, said global and regional trends indicate that current health systems and services need to be reoriented to promote and preserve health in its fullest sense: complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
"There is a need to restore balance in health care, including the health system itself," Dr Omi says. "Moreover, medical education has increasingly concentrated on body systems and disease conditions so that the broader and important aspects of cultural context, psychosocial factors, medical ethics, and communication and relational skills, among others, have been neglected."
The policy framework identifies four core areas in which reforms could be undertaken to translate the principles behind the people-centred approach into appropriate and setting-specific interventions:
- Informed and empowered individuals, families and communities
- Competent and responsive practitioners
- Effective health care organizations
- Supportive health systems
"Studies show that half of patients are dissatisfied with current health care, and roughly the same proportion see no significant improvement over a five-year horizon," Dr Omi said. He pointed out that a paradigm shift in health systems towards people-centred health care can increase patient safety. Other potential gains are improved adherence to care plans, improved treatment and health outcomes, increased patient satisfaction with care, and improved quality of life for patients, their families, the community and society in general.