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Health Services and Access Unit

The Health Services and Access Unit is responsible for the technical support for the PAHO Member States for issues related to policies, systems, and health services.  The object is to promote the development and strengthening of health systems of the countries of the Region, promoting advances toward universal coverage in health through the strategic approach to the Primary Health Care (PHC) and the integrated networks of health services.

Universal Health Coverage is to ensure all people have access to needed services (prevention, promotion, curative, rehabilitation, and palliative care) with sufficient quality to be effective and without exposing individuals to financial hardship. It constitutes a comprehensive goal for our health systems, to ensure that all-including the most vulnerable, poor and excluded - have access to quality, integrated services based on primary health care throughout the life cycle. UHC provides renewed focus on addressing the Social Determinants of Health, and engaging all sectors and civil society to promote health and well-being.

Areas of technical cooperation

To illustrate the Unit work areas, we will use the three dimensions of universal coverage plus the one of health system governance.


Population coverage

Guarantee of access to health services

Financial protection

System governance    

The World Health Organization (WHO) began promoting Primary Health Care (PHC) before 1978, when PHC was adopted during the Alma-Ata Conference as a central strategy to achieve the "Health for All" goal. Recently, a process of PHC renewal was initiated by PAHO/WHO with the aim to strengthen countries’ capacity to implement a coordinated, effective and sustainable strategy to tackle existing health problems, meet new health challenges and improve health equity.  A health system based on PHC guarantees universal coverage and access to services that are acceptable to the population and equity-enhancing. It provides comprehensive, integrated and appropriate care over time that emphasizes prevention and promotion, and that assures first contact. Families and communities are the basis for planning and action.

Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization
525 Twenty-third Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037, United States of America
Tel.: +1 (202) 974-3000 Fax: +1 (202) 974-3663

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