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universal health coverage

New data released to help tackle health disparities and catastrophic health expenditures

Tim Evans's picture
Woman receives a health check-up. Agusan del Sur, Philippines / (C) World Bank



The last 20 years or so have seen many shifts of emphasis in global health. Among them, two stand out: a concern that the poor do not get left behind in the rush to achieve global goals and a concern that health services are affordable.

However, these were not big issues in global health in the last century. In 1996, one of us (Timothy Grant Evans) launched the Global Health Equity Initiative while at the Rockefeller Foundation, in response to what we and others described as the “disturbing disparities” between rich and poor.

What makes a good case for allocating more of the national budget to the health sector?

Maxwell Bruku Dapaah's picture

Making the case for increasing the national budget allocation to the health sector is critical if more domestic resources are to be garnered for financing universal health coverage. Yet, there are competing priorities for more allocation for other sectors. While political will remains pivotal to decisions on national priorities, against limited resources, fiscal managers- such as ministries of finance or treasury- have a challenging job translating national priorities into budget allocations for sectors.

The Power of Convergence: Eliminating unfair inequalities in child survival

Kevin Watkins's picture
photo: Save the Children


 

What is there not to like about the Sustainable Development Goals? The 17 goals and 169 targets are nothing if not a smorgasbord of worthy ambition. But the sheer breadth and scope of the SDGs, allied to the 2030 target date, can make it difficult for governments to prioritise. It can also make it difficult for citizens to hold their governments to account. Cynics might suggest that’s why so many governments signed up for an SDG pledge that few of them have any intention of delivering.

For those of us who are more interested in achieving change than indulging in cynicism, the challenge is to identify pathways for translating rhetorical commitments into practical outcomes. If I had to select just one morsel of accountability from the SDG feast it would be this sentence tucked away in the preamble: “We wish to see the Goals and targets met…. for all segments of society. And we will endeavour to reach the furthest behind first.”

It’s tough to think of a more elevated test of fairness. The SDGs establish bold targets for eliminating extreme deprivation. But they also signal an intent to combine national progress towards those targets with ‘social convergence’, or a decline in the disparities separating the most marginalised from the rest of society. This is a marked departure from Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which focused attention on national average progress. As the findings from an excellent 2015 paper by Adam Wagstaff and Caryn Bredenkamp noted national progress in child survival and nutrition masked widening inequalities in a majority of countries, notably in sub-Saharan Africa.

Equity Is a Must on the Road to Universal Health Coverage

Caroline Ly's picture



Many countries around the world are working to ensure that all people can access the quality health services they need without suffering financial hardship. Countries have committed to reaching universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030 as part of the global Sustainable Development Goals.

Why do finance ministries matter to achieving universal health coverage?

Maxwell Bruku Dapaah's picture



In the sustainable development goals (SDGs) era, the imperative to finance the development agenda from domestic resources has been amplified. Irrespective of a government’s best intentions to achieve universal health coverage (UHC), without adequate financing from its national budget, minimal progress will be made. This is in stark contrast to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) era (from 2000- 2015) where emphasis was on effective development cooperation (EDC).  And when it comes to achieving UHC, financing is actually only part of the role ministries of finance can play. Indeed, in a recent Lancet article, H.E Taro Aso, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Japan, pointed out that the finance ministry’s “crucial role in Japan’s UHC achievement has not been adequately highlighted”.

Towards Universal Health Coverage: Tackling the health financing crisis to end poverty

Juhie Bhatia's picture



World Health Day this year is focused on universal health coverage (UHC) and the urgent need for #HealthforAll. Taking place on April 7, it’s an opportune time to call on world leaders to commit to concrete steps to work towards and support financing for UHC. Many countries have made great strides towards UHC, but it’s not still enough.

Fighting for Breath: A call to action on childhood pneumonia

Kevin Watkins's picture
credit: Save The Children

Sarah Ruteri*, aged 14 months, is a survivor. A few months ago, I saw her admitted to the pediatric ward of Lodwar hospital in northern Kenya’s drought-affected Turkana district. Suffering from severe pneumonia, Sarah was gasping for breath – and fighting for her life. Her tiny ribcage was convulsed by a losing struggle to get air into her lungs. Doctors told her mother to expect the worst. But with a combination of oxygen therapy and intravenous antibiotics, Sarah pulled through.

Insuring India: States learn about health insurance from each other

Owen Smith's picture

India faces many challenges on the road to Universal Health Coverage (UHC).  Almost two-thirds of total health spending is paid out-of-pocket by households, placing India among the top 10 countries in the world in this regard.  Recent global estimates that aim to measure country progress towards UHC also highlight India’s gaps in terms of service coverage. 



So how does a country achieve UHC? One possible answer might be to discuss broad health system paradigms, but quite another would be to talk about the nuts and bolts of implementing a specific program.  While the choice between paradigms is made, at most, once in a decade, figuring out how to implement a program happens every day.  For this, practitioner-to-practitioner learning is one of the best ways to help implementers make real progress on the road to UHC. 

Lao PDR’s transition on the path to Universal Health Coverage

Somil Nagpal's picture
A mother brings her baby to Mitthaphap Hospital for a checkup. Photo: World Bank Lao PDR
On this Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, it is striking to us, working in Lao PDR’s health sector, of the progress the country has made on its journey towards UHC this year.


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