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universal health coverage

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.

Income inequality and differential mortality: An ominous combination

Patricio V. Marquez's picture

A man smokes in Indonesia. © Curt Carnemark/World Bank

It is safe to argue that the issue of income and wealth inequality is nowadays at the center of political debate across the world. Leading intellectuals such as Thomas Piketty in his seminal work, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” and Joseph Stiglitz in “The Price of Inequality” have rigorously analyzed the evolution of this social phenomenon and argued that increased inequality and lack of opportunity are creating divided societies that are endangering the future of nations.

Those working in public health have for years documented and discussed how low and decreasing incomes, decline in standards of living, and lack of or limited access health care and other essential services contribute to inequalities in health, manifested in a widening gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor.

Shaping a new era for health financing

Tim Evans's picture
At the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Annual Financing Forum in Washington, DC, USA, on April 14–15, 2016, governments and development partners will debate how to raise and organize public and private resources needed for low-income and lower- middle-income countries to assure affordable, quality health care to all of their people by 2030.

Saturday, December 12 was UHC Day. What have we learned in the last 12 months about Universal Health Coverage?

Adam Wagstaff's picture
It turns out lots of interesting things happened on December 12. Beethoven had his first lesson in music composition with Franz Joseph Haydn (1792), Washington, D.C. became the capital of the US (1800), Guglielmo Marconi sent the first transatlantic radio signal (1901), Kenya declared independence from the UK (1963), The Beatles played their last UK concert (1965), and  Ed Sheeran announced he was “taking a break” from social media (2015). Oh yes, and the UN endorsed a resolution calling for countries to “provide affordable, quality health care to every person, everywhere” (2012).

Will India leapfrog toward universal health coverage?

Somil Nagpal's picture



It’s that time of year again, when we observe a day dedicated to the most ambitious health goal of all: universal health coverage, or UHC. On UHC Day (Dec. 12) we commemorate the date in 2012 when the United Nations unanimously endorsed a resolution urging governments to ensure that all people can access health care without financial hardship.

Going universal: 24 countries and the “how” of universal health coverage

Daniel Cotlear's picture



The launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the recent U.N. General Assembly meetings brought especially welcome news: The future we want now officially includes universal health coverage (UHC), as defined under SDG 3, target 8.  We also heard, the same week, from a group of economists from 44 countries, who publicly stated that “UHC makes economic sense.”  It seems the tide has turned toward making essential health care available to all who need it, without creating financial hardship.

Universal health coverage in a generation is achievable

Bertrand Badré's picture
A nurse cleans a newborn in a Sierra Leone hospital. © Dominic Chavez/World Bank


​As the father of four children, I know how important access to good, quality health care is. All parents aspire to be able to provide the same for their children. That’s why we at the World Bank Group are working with our partners around the globe to make universal health coverage a reality for all.

Uniting finance and development has been a lifelong passion of mine. Earlier in my career, I supported then French President Jacques Chirac with the development of an international airline ticket solidarity tax to provide global public goods for the poor. This kind of innovative thinking eventually led to the creation of UNITAID which works to prevent, treat, and diagnose HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria more quickly, cheaply and effectively. Other innovative financing mechanisms include the International Finance Facility for Immunization and the Global Vaccine Initiative.


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