Health services delivery

Health care today occupies a fragmented environment that needs to adapt to rapid change in order to provide continuous and coordinated patient-centred care.

Health service delivery faces increasing public demands for access to and use of new technologies, new medications and new models of care, as well as higher expectations of quality and safe care.

Ageing populations with multiple co-morbidities, emerging and re-emerging diseases, and the burden of chronic diseases are further challenges to health care systems. Globalization is shifting the requirements for health care and control to reach across borders. Climate change is affecting disease patterns and the spread of vectors in the WHO European Region. The uncontrolled use of antibiotics is leading to increasing antimicrobial resistance, multidrug-resistant tuberculosis being one of the most dramatic examples affecting disease control.

The global financial crisis is having a direct impact on the size, quality, reliability and population coverage of health services through the rapidly changing dynamics of public financing, and the need to protect and balance health spending.

Existing models of health care delivery must continue, in an uninterrupted and coordinated way, to address people’s needs, not only as patients but also beyond, such as through prevention and monitoring. This urgently requires a fundamental rethink of health service delivery in the WHO European Region to concentrate on primary care and its gatekeeping function, in accordance with local conditions, resources and needs.