According to the World Health Organization, self-care is “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote and maintain health, prevent disease, and cope with illness with or without the support of a health care provider”. Self-care, and the tools to support it such as digital health, has reached a new level of importance and necessity for ensuring access to effective HIV prevention and care and SRHR services that meet the needs of clients. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely limited access to in-person care across the world, magnifying the need for innovative solutions for individuals to manage their own health and well-being that will remain long-after the pandemic has ended.
What COVID has really pushed us to do, however, is to creatively re-think about how we approach health service delivery when there are critical barriers to clinic-based health care provision and how we can advance self-care as an approach to reduce the burden on health systems while strengthening the connection between patient and health care providers at the same time. What is needed now is partnering with communities and governments to make sure that the lessons learned translate in a post-covid world and self-care and digital health interventions are scaled up and adequately invested in.