CARE remains committed to ensuring the universal right to health. The Right to Health Strategy aims to support 50 million people of all genders in realizing this right, including enabling 30 million women and girls to realize their sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR), by 2030. CARE’s strategy to advance the right to health focuses on building resilient, equitable, and accountable health systems that can respond to shocks and crises and ensure sustainable access to quality health services for all.
Globally, the right to health is undermined by persistent economic and social inequities, as well as ongoing threats to health security posed by increases in the number, scale, scope, and duration of humanitarian disasters. Restrictive gender norms and gender inequalities are replicated and reinforced in health systems, contributing to gender inequalities in health and lived experiences. Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many health systems were struggling to adequately meet the health needs, particularly the sexual and reproductive health needs, of the populations they were meant to serve. The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact has further strained these systems and put hard-won gains in health equity and gender justice at risk. The current global COVID-19 pandemic is generating unprecedented global attention to, and resource allocation for, health-systems. We and our partners have a unique opportunity to leverage political will and investments to ensure fair and efficient epidemic control measures. This is also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leverage this momentum to build more resilient, equitable, and accountable health systems overall. It is also critical that we proactively work to prevent investments in the COVID-19 response from derailing other essential health services, or building vertical, disease-specific infrastructure.
Our 2030 vision and strategy are powerfully shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are witnessing an unprecedented global focus on health systems; as a diverse set of stakeholders we are investing in mitigating the wide-ranging economic, social, and political impact of COVID-19 as well as in preparing for the next pandemic. CARE and our partners have a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to leverage this momentum not only to ensure fair and efficient epidemic control and vaccine delivery, but also to “build back” resilient, equitable, and accountable health systems. It is also critical that we proactively work to prevent investments in the COVID-19 response from derailing other essential health services, or building vertical, disease-specific infrastructure.
At the global level, we will shape the priorities of agenda-setting global health partnerships and policy-making bodies working in both stable and crisis-affected settings. We will shape the policies and investments of key bilateral and private donors, as well as shaping national and regional health policies and budgets. We will also work to ensure transparent and inclusive governance of health systems from grassroots to national, regional, and global levels – with a focus on ensuring leadership of locally rooted women’s groups, youth groups, and civil society organizations.
CARE’s Right to Health Strategy catalyzes three interrelated domains of change that are aligned with the gender equality framework. We seek to: (1) build assets and agency of women, girls, and other groups facing injustice; (2) change the power relations to enable collective voice and well-being; and (3) transform health systems and structures to enable universal access to health. We do this with the deliberate focus of strengthening health systems anchored in community health ecosystems. We unleash the power of frontline health care workers as change agents. In keeping with our values, our approach towards gender equality is community-driven and based on reflective dialogue to build consciousness of existing inequality, gendered social norms, and build skills for collective actions to challenge and change inequitable gender norms and power dynamics. The reflection, analysis, and action processes are applied at all levels (individual to structural) and are accomplished through meaningful engagement and leadership of program participants at all levels. This approach towards gender and inclusion is cross-cutting across the emergency to development continuum.
CARE’s Right to Health Strategy has four thematic areas of focus
These include the following:
- Strengthen local health systems and community-based organizations to ensure equity, access, and quality of health services, explicitly seeking direction from our partners including community-based organizations, governments, and citizens. Our strategy calls for a shift to localization at a minimum, and to push for decolonization of health programming including mindset and approaches in all systems and processes.
- Support marginalized population groups, especially adolescents, to exercise their right to health through holistic programming that optimizes their health, rights, and voice. Our programs ensure that adolescents of all genders, (including underserved groups experiencing injustice) are supported by the people and systems that surround them.
- Increase access to quality health services, including sexual and reproductive health and rights services, in humanitarian and fragile settings, to support resiliency over the long term and sustainability. Our nexus approach ensures agility to respond to emergencies while building back and strengthening resilience of the health system in fragile settings to support communities when the situation stabilizes.
- Prepare and respond to public health emergency preparedness by leveraging our long-term relationships with the government, frontline health workers, and communities. We work with partners to quickly mobilize and respond to public health emergencies and ensure that preparedness and response efforts address the gendered dimensions of health before, during, and after emergencies.
Coordinated and aligned advocacy, from the grassroots to the national, regional, and global levels, is a critical pathway for CARE to transform health systems and achieve impact at scale. At the global level, we will shape the priorities of agenda-setting global health partnerships and policy-making bodies working in both stable and crisis-affected settings (such as Gavi and FP2030). With our partners, we will shape the policies and investments of key bilateral and private donors, as well as shape national and regional health policies and budgets.
Partnership is central to our effort to ensure that people of all genders can realize their right to health. Our partnerships are also pathways to scale. We provide accompaniment and capacity enhancement to national governments to scale proven approaches and interventions in the health sector. We also work with community and civil society partners to ground health interventions in the rights and needs of the community and ensure accountability. We document and share lessons and good practices via regional and global networks and partners. Finally, we use advocacy and influence global, multilateral, and regional coalitions to strategically influence priorities and agendas of policy-making bodies. Coordinated advocacy with partners – from the grassroots to the national, regional, and global levels – will enable a transformation of health systems and achieve impact at scale.
Our approach to partnership is informed by our values. We seek to embody the principles of equity, collaboration, complementarity, mutual accountability, transparency, and humility. We acknowledge CARE’s history and complicity in contributing to an industry and aid system that is deeply inequitable with harmful power and privilege imbalances. We commit to re-imagine and deploy mechanisms for enabling more equitable partnerships between CARE and our implementing, learning, and influencing partners. We seek opportunities to accompany and act as allies to partners – especially grassroots, rights-based, and women- and youth-led civil society organizations—in accessing funding and decision-making spaces directly.
The Right to Health Strategy is co-led by CARE India and CARE USA. There is a Strategic Advisory Group leading the process of developing and implementing the strategy, including a process to put in place more permanent governance structures. Also, a resource development plan to finance the strategy which will require significant support from teams across CARE.