The Crucial Role of Project Management


in Advancing Healthcare Access and

Universal Health Coverage




By Rudi T. de Koker

South Africa


In the pursuit of equitable healthcare access and universal health coverage, a well-structured and organized approach is paramount. While healthcare systems around the world grapple with numerous challenges, project management has emerged as a powerful tool for transforming the landscape of healthcare delivery. This advisory article aims to underscore the pivotal role of project management in advancing healthcare access and universal health coverage, drawing insights from various research studies conducted in South Africa and globally.

Project Management in Healthcare Access

The study entitled “Exploring the Current State of HPV Vaccine (Access and Utilization) in Independent Pharmacies in South Africa” serves as an excellent example of how project management can significantly impact healthcare access  (Adams & De Koker, 2023). In this study, the implementation of a project management framework facilitated the effective distribution and utilization of the HPV vaccine in independent pharmacies. Key takeaways from this study include:

  1. Efficient Resource Allocation: Project management allowed for the allocation of resources, including vaccines and healthcare personnel, in a manner that maximized their impact on the target population. Efficient resource allocation is a cornerstone of successful healthcare projects. Project management in healthcare ensures that resources such as funding, personnel, equipment, and supplies are allocated optimally to achieve the desired outcomes. Here’s how it works:
    • Resource Assessment: Project managers assess the available resources and identify any gaps or excesses. For instance, in the context of the HPV vaccine study in South African pharmacies, project management would involve evaluating the quantity of vaccines needed versus what is available.
    • Prioritization: Project managers prioritize resource allocation based on project goals and critical tasks. In healthcare access projects, this might involve directing more resources to underserved areas or populations with higher healthcare needs.
    • Resource Monitoring: Continuous monitoring of resource utilization ensures that resources are not wasted and are consistently aligned with project objectives. In the case of vaccine distribution, this means tracking vaccine supplies and adjusting as needed to prevent shortages or wastage.
  1. Timely Execution: By defining clear project timelines and milestones, the study ensured that the vaccine was available when needed, reducing delays and ensuring that healthcare access was not compromised. Timely execution is vital in healthcare projects, where delays can have serious consequences for patient health and wellbeing. Project management methodologies promote on-time delivery through:
    • Project Scheduling: Project managers create detailed schedules with clear timelines for each task and milestone. This ensures that healthcare services, treatments, or interventions are provided when needed, minimizing patient waiting times.
    • Risk Management: Identifying potential delays or obstacles in advance allows project managers to develop mitigation strategies. For instance, if a healthcare facility is facing staffing shortages, project management can involve cross-training or temporary staffing solutions to maintain timely service delivery.

Universal Health Coverage and Project Management:

Universal health coverage (UHC) is a global aspiration, as evidenced by the study published in the Archives of Public Health (Gilardino, Valanzasca, & Rifkin, 2022). This research delves into the role of project management in implementing UHC policies. Key insights from this study include:


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How to cite this article: de Koker, R. (2023).  The Crucial Role of Project Management in Advancing Healthcare Access and Universal Health Coverage, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue X, October. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/pmwj134-Oct2023-De-Koker-crucial-role-of-project-management-in-advancing-healthcare-access.pdf

About the Author

Rudi de Koker

South Africa


Rudi de Koker holds a master’s degree in business administration (CPUT) and a Bachelor of Technology in Project Management (CPUT); he is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with a passion for healthcare and HIV/AIDS management that led him to pursue a Post Graduate Diploma in this field from Stellenbosch University in 2011. He is currently enrolled for a PhD with a focus on Telemedicine. Rudi possesses a wealth of knowledge working in both the private and NGO sectors managing large scale projects within healthcare. Prior to enrolling for the PhD, he was the Managing Executive for a national HIV/AIDS programme in South Africa. Rudi’s interests are in Project Management, Universal Health Coverage, Digital Health and Artificial Intelligence. He can be contacted at rudidekokermobile@gmail.com