Achieving universal and equitable access to health services is important because timely and effective use of quality, comprehensive health services can substantially improve health outcomes and prevent potentially avoidable premature mortality. As a key indicator of health system performance, the metric of potentially avoidable premature mortality (e.g., deaths from causes that should not occur in the presence of timely and effective access to comprehensive and quality health services) has gained importance. It provides a good indication of what can or should be addressed by policies and interventions to improve access to and quality of health services. Using this metric to assess the performance of health systems can provide a more complete picture of effective ways to improve population health.
More work is needed across the Region to fully transform the health systems for maximum benefit. These four recommendations can have an effect on improvements in potentially avoidable premature death:
- Increase and institutionalize monitoring and evaluation processes for potentially avoidable premature death, including understanding its causes and the impact of quality and access conditions, problems of access, and inequities and their determinants.
- Consolidate the steering role of health authorities to lead the definition of policies for the transformation of health systems.
- Improve and increase the capacity of health systems by strengthening the mechanisms for regulating and allocating critical health systems resources, including health financing, human resources for health and medicines, and other health technologies.
- Sustain and expand improvements in access to comprehensive and quality health services, including individual health services as well as the public health and intersectoral actions with an effect on potentially avoidable premature mortality.