Health financing for universal coverage

Global strategy and partner agencies

The growing momentum behind universal coverage (UC), or universal health coverage (UHC), both in countries and among the international community has recently materialized in a variety of actions, reforms and activities.

Growing focus upon universal health coverage

International organizations working in health have been making universal coverage an important focus of their work. WHO's World health report 2010 (WHR 2010) for example built on a considerable body of earlier work by many agencies, organizations and individuals. WHO is thus not the only agency that espouses UC, nor the only agency supporting countries to modify their health financing and health systems in search of UC.

The World Bank (WB) and the regional development banks also work with countries on their health financing systems, for example, often as part of broader development agendas. Many bilateral aid agencies and civil society organizations have made health systems financing a feature of their technical and financial support in recent years.

The Providing for Health Initiative (P4H) is a global health partnership aiming at improving social health protection and strengthening health financing systems to promote universal coverage in low and middle-income countries. To date the P4H network includes Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, ILO, WHO, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

Unified voice of global civil society

“UHC means ensuring that everyone can obtain essential health services of high quality without suffering financial hardship. It means ensuring that all people, rich and poor, young and old, urban and rural, receive the care they need close to their homes.” This was a key message from Dr Agnes Soucat, Director of Health System Governance and Financing, WHO. She was among the key speakers during a press conference on 17 December 2015 about the role of civil society in universal health coverage (UHC).

The event included international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), southern NGOs, and Japanese NGOs that work and advocate for access to health for the poorest and most marginalized people. It adds important voices to the debate about UHC. It also links closely to the Health Systems Strengthening roadmap consultation hosted by Germany and WHO on 17 December 2015, and to the G7 Global Health Working Group round table.

The Providing for Health (P4H) initiative

Providing for Health (P4H) is a global health partnership launched in 2007 during the G8 summit in Germany, aimed at improving social health protection and strengthening health financing systems to promote universal coverage in low and middle-income countries, with particular focus on ensuring inclusion for the poor. P4H operates through an open network of partners, to date the network includes Germany, France, Switzerland, Spain, ILO, WHO, the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

The launch of P4H was an important landmark for promoting coordinated responses by external partners to accelerate countries’ transitions to universal coverage. P4H does not promote any specific standardized model to promote these aims, recognizing that options need to be developed within the particular macroeconomic, sociocultural and political context of each country.

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