Progress, future prospects and implications for quality health systems
Intervention coverage – the proportion of the population in need of health care that receives care – ignores the quality of the intervention and potentially overestimates the health benefits of services provided to populations. Effective coverage introduces the dimension of quality of care into the measure of coverage of the intervention. Many definitions and methodological approaches to measure effective coverage have been developed, which has led to confusion over the definition, calculation, interpretation and monitoring of these measures.
To develop consensus on defining and measuring effective coverage for maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition (MNCAHN), WHO and UNICEF convened a group of experts, the Effective Coverage Think Tank Group, to make recommendations for standardizing the definition of effective coverage, measurement approaches for effective coverage, effective coverage indicators in the MNCAHN, and for developing future research priorities on effective coverage. Following a series of consultations, the group recommended that effective coverage be defined as the proportion of a population in need of a service that resulted in a positive service health outcome. The proposed effective coverage measures and steps in the cascade of care can be applied to further develop effective coverage measures across a wide range of MNCAHN services. In addition, progress in measuring effective coverage could improve monitoring efforts towards achieving universal health coverage.