At least half of the world’s population still do not have full coverage of healthcare services. Even more, where you live in the world can have a dramatic impact on access to these services. Many families are forced to choose between healthcare and other life-giving necessities, like food or housing. It’s no surprise then that the theme for this year’s World Health Day is Universal Health Coverage (UHC) – without discrimination.
Healthcare is a fundamental human right, and it’s one that ISO doesn’t take lightly. With 14 technical committees dedicated to the field of health and well-being, standards in this sector allow healthcare systems to compare services, exchange information, aggregate data and protect patient privacy.
Achieving healthcare for all means engaging stakeholders from every sector. This includes patients, clinicians, doctors, manufacturers, scientists, policy makers, and so on. Healthcare touches all of our lives and the benefits of a system that works for everyone are numerous: healthy children can go to school and learn, and healthy adults can go to work and earn. Long term, this leads us to greater economic stability.
Yet, creating healthcare systems that work is no small feat. We need all hands on deck and international standardization offers the proper platform for stakeholders to join together and create collaborative solutions that yield big results. “Standards born out of international consensus should become the linchpin for global regulation in healthcare,” says Alexey V. Abramov, Head of the Federal Agency on Technical Regulating and Metrology of the Russian Federation. He continues: “We need to overcome our contradictions to make decisions that improve and support healthcare worldwide… for present and future generations.”
ISO’s technical committees have been hard at work formulating standards that protect the health and safety of patients all over the world. For example, ISO/TC 210, Quality management and corresponding general aspects for medical devices, has produced 31 standards relating to quality management of medical devices, helping ensure the safe design and performance of medical products. In addition, ISO/TC 215, Health informatics, develops standards that allow data to flow freely between systems. Such interoperability will have lasting impacts on how patient information can be transferred from one system to another in the future.
With over 1 400 standards related to health, the standardization community plays a tremendous role in support of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No 3 (SDG 3), which aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all”. People-centred care is intrinsic to UHC, meaning people have access to high-quality health services in a timely fashion, regardless of their location in the world and without suffering financial hardship.