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The WHO Deputy Director-General and colleagues recently wrote that “universal access to health information is a human right and essential to achieving universal health coverage and the other health-related targets of the sustainable development goals”, citing a previous analysis [1,2]. Indeed, reliable healthcare information* should be available to all and used to protect health at all levels from the home through to primary, secondary and tertiary care .
Yet, despite the transformation of the information landscape by the digital revolution, with all the opportunities this has provided for provision of and access to healthcare information, connectivity is not evenly distributed  and does not guarantee accuracy or quality of information. Further, it has led to an explosion of misinformation, associated with wider public distrust in science and exacerbated by social media and the recent 'infodemic' associated with COVID-19. There is a pressing need not only to increase access, but also to empower people to differentiate between reliable information and misinformation.
Almost 20 years ago a Lancet paper  argued that access to reliable healthcare information is dependent on a functional global evidence ecosystem, but the current system was dysfunctional. It cited three intrinsic weaknesses: poor communication among stakeholders, poor understanding of information needs and how to meet them, and poor advocacy associated with a near total abse...
Almost 20 years ago a Lancet paper  argued that access to reliable healthcare information is dependent on a functional global evidence ecosystem, but the current system was dysfunctional. It cited three intrinsic weaknesses: poor communication among stakeholders, poor understanding of information needs and how to meet them, and poor advocacy associated with a near total absence of high-level political and financial support. The paper called on WHO to champion the vision of “healthcare information for all”.
WHO is arguably the single most important publisher of reliable healthcare information. WHO’s current General Programme of Work notes that “WHO’s quintessential function is to ensure access to authoritative and strategic information on matters that affect peoples’ health”. . WHO has initiated and supported numerous health information initiatives over the last 20 years, including the Hinari/Research4Life programme and the WHO Information Network for Epidemics (EPI-WIN). If WHO were now to publicly commit to the goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information, this would be a game-changer.
In 2022 WHO and the Global Healthcare Information Network (GHI-Net), (a small UK nonprofit that administers the global health network Healthcare Information For All (HIFA)  and that has recently entered into official relations with WHO) agreed a collaboration plan . The first step in the plan is a global survey that seeks views from all stakeholders (researchers, publishers, library and information professionals, health workers, patients…) on the importance of universal access, how to achieve the goal (considering the associated recommendations of the World Medical Association ), and what specifically WHO and others can do to accelerate progress in 2024 and beyond.
The survey can be accessed at www.hifa.org/survey2023 and takes 5-10 minutes to complete. It is available in 9languages (Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish). It will run until 30 September 2023. The findings of the survey will be submitted for publication in this journal by December 2023 and will inform WHO and GHI-Net’s work in 2024 and beyond.
We urge all stakeholders to complete the survey. This will demonstrate support for the principle of universal access to reliable healthcare information and will help accelerate progress towards that goal.
*Footnote: 'Universal access to reliable healthcare information' implies that everyone can access the information they need to protect their own health and the health of others. Such information should be accurate, timely, at an appropriate technical level, in the right language, in a format that is accessible to the end user, and applicable.
We are grateful for initial financial support for the survey from the Elsevier Foundation and the National Institute for Health and Care Research (UK), and technical support from Evidence for Global and Disaster Health (a special interest group of the International Federation of Library Associations) and JBI. Further financial and technical support is being sought for the consultation through to the end of 2023 and for implementation of collaboration plan in 2024 and beyond.
 Muscat D, Hinton R, Nutbeam D, et al. Universal health information is essential for universal health coverage. Family Medicine and Community Health 2023;11:e002090. doi: 10.1136/fmch-2022-002090. https://fmch.bmj.com/content/11/2/e002090
 Royston G, Pakenham-Walsh N, Zielinski C. Universal access to essential health information: accelerating progress towards universal health coverage and other SDG health targets. BMJ Global Health 2020;5:e002475. https://gh.bmj.com/content/5/5/e002475
 Bhaumik S, Pakenham-Walsh N, Chatterjee P, Biswas T. Governments are legally obliged to ensure adequate access to health information. The Lancet Global Health. 2013 Sep 1;1(3):e129-30.
 Measuring digital development: Facts and Figures 2022 https://www.itu.int/hub/publication/d-ind-ict_mdd-2022/
 Can we achieve health information for all by 2015? Godlee F et al. The Lancet, July 17, 2004. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(04)16681-6
 World Health Organization. The Thirteenth General Programme of Work, 2019–2023. https://www.who.int/about/what-we-do/thirteenth-general-programme-of-wor...
 Healthcare Information For All www.hifa.org
 Collaboration Plan between WHO and Global Healthcare Information Network C.I.C. for the period 2022-2024. https://publicspace.who.int/sites/GEM/official_relations_details.aspx?id...
 WMA statement on healthcare information for all, 2019. https://www.wma.net/policies-post/wma-statement-on-healthcare-informatio...