Good health should be a universal human right, but all too often it is dictated by social and geographical circumstances. Global health and well-being are the preserve of the World Health Organization (WHO), the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. Created to dispense the advice and knowledge needed for people to lead healthy lives, WHO provides leadership on matters critical to health and engages in partnerships where joint action is needed. This aspiration towards better health for all has been the guiding principle for seven decades and is the impetus behind the organization’s drive towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Good health requires the commitment of many, from policy makers to civil society, to global health partners and even standards makers. ISO has enjoyed a strong collaboration with WHO for many years; WHO participates in almost 60 liaisons with ISO technical committees to develop standards for mutual benefit. Both organizations agree on the importance of ensuring that health standards are in place everywhere in the world, to contribute to our global well-being and to create the best possible conditions for health professionals to do their job.
The goal of these partnerships is to leverage international activities that contribute to the “tailoring” and adoption of ISO International Standards for health systems across all kinds of sectors, from public health and medical products to health informatics and traditional medicines. At a time when there is disturbing evidence of widening gaps in health worldwide, ISOfocus asks François-Xavier Lery, Coordinator for Technologies Standards and Norms at the World Health Organization, how the collaboration with ISO can help advance universal health coverage in the 21st century.