Health financing for universal coverage

Strategic purchasing for UHC: unlocking the potential

WHO’s Department of Health Systems Governance and Financing will hold a global meeting entitled “Strategic purchasing for UHC: unlocking the potential” from 25-27 April 2017 in Geneva. Participants from national health authorities and purchasing agencies, development agencies, foundations, as well as researchers will convene to discuss five key themes: benefit design, mixed provider payment system, governance for strategic purchasing, information management systems, and payment for performance. The objective of the meeting is to further develop a global collaborative agenda on future work related to strategic purchasing in support of country efforts to progress towards universal health coverage.

WHO Reference Guide for the development of a national health financing strategy


31 March 2017 - Many countries are developing or refining their health financing policies, in an effort to strengthen their health systems and in turn to make real progress towards UHC. This Reference Guide to writing a national health financing strategy brings together many years of WHO’s involvement in the development of health financing policy with its member states. The publication builds on, and should be read together with, earlier guidance on how to conduct a health system performance analysis from the perspective of health financing policy. Whilst not prescribing a particular process, or set of health financing arrangements, this Reference Guide outlines guiding principles, and key issues to address in order to develop comprehensive health financing policy.

Reforms for improving the efficiency of health systems: lessons from 10 country cases

The report applies a causal framework to synthesize lessons from ten case studies of various health system reforms which aimed to improve the efficiency in health systems of Burundi, Chile, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia Mexico, the Republic of Korea, South Africa and Uruguay. The report summarizes the main forms of inefficiency, policy reforms undertaken to address these, and the results in each country. The authors derive key lessons learnt from these experiences and suggest promising future directions for improving efficiency in health systems.

Aligning PFM and health financing


23 March 2017 - Progress towards UHC requires sustainable public financing that is channelled through strong and responsive public financial management (PFM) systems. PFM improvements generally benefit the health sector. However, specific health sector challenges require flexibility to enable effective implementation of health financing policies. This document lays out areas where PFM systems are crucial for the effective implementation of health financing policy in support of UHC and offers guidance for improving alignment. It is meant to facilitate productive dialog between health and finance authorities to enable a coordinated reform approach.

Featured topic: Benefit package

WHO /Eric Schwab

All countries face decisions about what to include in a publicly-funded benefit package for health. Decisions concern which health services to include, as well as related rules such as a requirement to use the referral system, making co-payments, or being subject to waiting lists.

Benefit package design is a key instrument to steer the health systems towards UHC. Decisions about priority services take into account information on cost-effectiveness, impact on financial protection, and equity in access across a population. Ensuring the effective delivery of benefits also requires coordination with policies on revenue raising, pooling, purchasing, and service delivery.

Recent highlights

Data availability to monitor SDG indicator 3.8.2

Measuring health service coverage and financial protection to assess countries’ progress towards UHC.

Strategic purchasing: an emerging agenda for Africa

Bilingual one-day workshop on strategic purchasing on 29 September 2016 in Rabat, Morocco.

Public financing for health in Africa: from Abuja to the SDGs

This report highlights opportunities for accelerated progress toward universal health coverage (UHC).

Spending targets for health: no magic number

This analysis demonstrates the importance of focusing on ensuring available funds are spent efficiently.

Universal coverage

Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.