The World Health Organization has introduced the Acute Care Action Network (ACAN), a global coalition of important actors and stakeholders committed to saving millions of lives by advancing action on ECO through stronger action, collectively. This announcement comes in response to the resolution to strengthen access to high-quality emergency, critical, and operative care (ECO) services across the globe that was approved at the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly.
ECO services are crucial to addressing people’s health requirements throughout their lives and are a crucial component of a thorough primary healthcare strategy. The scope of ECO includes early detection and first aid in the community, clinic and emergency unit treatment, surgical and anesthesia services in the operating room, and other services. Early access to ECO services can avoid millions of fatalities and long-term disabilities caused by accidents, infections, mental health issues, pregnancy complications, and other illnesses, particularly those affecting infants and children.
Strong ECO services are the cornerstone of a nation’s health systems’ capacity to respond to emergencies and lessen the risk and effects of acute public health disasters.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed widespread weaknesses in ECO services that prevented an efficient response to COVID-19 and resulted in the loss of numerous lives. Additionally, it has reaffirmed the necessity of an integrated and people-centered approach and altered how we perceive emergency response and health systems.
“The same healthcare system provides for both routine medical requirements and emergency preparedness, readiness, and response.
“Only an integrated approach to the full ‘ECO’ continuum ensures that health systems can meet people’s health needs across the life course AND respond effectively to emergency events,” said Dr. Bruce Aylward, World Health Organization Assistant Director-General for Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Life Course. “Whether care is needed for a child with pneumonia, a pregnant woman with bleeding, or the victim of a respiratory virus or an earthquake.
We can and must do better as we emerge from the pandemic. It must be done together.
ACAN was established to encourage strategic engagement of governments, communities, partners, and a range of other stakeholders for coordinated and high-impact action in countries, with an emphasis on targeted support for implementation of World Health Organization tools in resource-limited settings. The WHA76 resolution on ECO presents an exceptional opportunity, and ACAN is its cornerstone and force multiplier.
The Laerdal Foundation and the American Heart Association, two significant collaborators in the ECO community, are providing the ACAN with strategic collaboration and support. With their help, ACAN and its members will collaborate to strengthen key processes and models of care that promote timely access and continuity, such as triage, resuscitation, effective referral, and counter-referral. They will also work to disseminate World Health Organization standards for needed equipment and supplies for ECO delivery at all levels of the health system.
In order to better understand the reality of ECO delivery and develop the capacity to use this data to improve quality, ACAN will also encourage standard documentation and data collection, engage communities in designing ECO interventions that meet their needs, strengthen facility, national, and regional planning, and support nations in designing governance mechanisms to drive impact, as well as work to ensure that ECO services are consistently taken into account and prioritized within packages of services.
ACAN will serve as a tool for direct capacity building in clinical care, health system planning, and research, and it will establish a body of knowledge to support successful implementation both within the network and outside of it. ACAN will create the Network Implementation Fund as part of its endeavors to assess and finance proposals for pilot implementation activities in low- and middle-income settings. Additionally, it will organize targeted grant funding applications for large-scale implementation efforts and outcome-focused monitoring operations.
More About World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. Its mission is to promote health, prevent diseases, and provide guidance and support to countries in achieving better health outcomes for all people.
The WHO plays a crucial role in coordinating global health efforts, setting health standards and guidelines, and providing technical assistance to countries. It focuses on various areas such as infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, mental health, maternal and child health, emergency preparedness and response, health systems strengthening, and promoting universal health coverage.
The organization collaborates with governments, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders to develop policies, strategies, and initiatives to address global health challenges. It conducts research, collects and analyzes health data, and disseminates information and guidance to support evidence-based decision-making.
In addition to its core functions, the WHO also works to strengthen health systems, improve access to essential medicines and vaccines, and promote health equity, particularly in low-income and marginalized communities. It leads global efforts to combat major health threats such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and emerging infectious diseases.
Overall, the WHO plays a vital role in shaping global health agendas, coordinating international health responses, and advocating for the right to health for all individuals worldwide.
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