Health financing for universal coverage

What is universal coverage?

Assessing fiscal space for universal health coverage in the era of Sustainable Development Goals

Pills and a graph illustration

13 November 2017 – In a new commentary, the WHO, World Bank and the Global Fund come together to take stock of a decade of research on fiscal space for health. The authors recommend that future analyses of fiscal space for health focus primarily on domestic revenue sources, with specific attention to potential expansion from the improved use and performance of public resources. Embedding assessments in national health planning and budgeting processes, with due consideration of the political economy dynamics, will provide a way to inform and impact allocative decisions more effectively.

Featured topic: Sustainable financing for UHC

Sustainable financing for UHC - Collaborative agenda

Since the end of 2014, WHO has been implementing the jointly agreed upon Collaborative Agenda on Fiscal Space, Public Financial Management, and Health Financing. This new webpage brings together all the related publications, topics, meeting information, and other announcements for those wanting to know more about public financing for UHC. Work under this agenda provides new evidence on how public funds can be raised, allocated and used in a way that will enable countries to make sustainable progress towards UHC

Towards UHC: thinking public

Public financing is central to making progress toward universal health coverage (UHC). By applying a method to separate out external sources of public expenditure on health, a new WHO publication – Towards UHC: thinking public – sheds light on the actual role of domestic public funds in financing health. It provides a powerful call for countries to “think public” as they develop their health financing strategies in support of UHC.

Community based health insurance – WHO policy brief now available in French

Community based health insurance: how can it contribute to progress towards UHC? cover

This policy brief outlines what community based health insurance is and why it is important to discuss it in relation to universal health coverage. It explores how community based health insurance fits into health financing policy and its key characteristics and effects of CBHI on progress towards UHC. Evidence of community based health insurance based on theory and practice is presented to show their impact on population coverage, utilisation of health services and financial protection.

Public financing for universal health coverage
A way to foster dialogue between finance and health

A figure on aligning public financial management and health financing systems.

23 October 2017 - Directing public funds towards services which address population health needs and other policy priorities is fundamental for a country's health system to move towards universal health coverage. This newly developed guide provides a process and framework to assist countries in identifying and then addressing critical misalignments between the public financial management system and health financing objectives. Through its application, health and finance authorities can engage in a collaborative and constructive dialogue in support of UHC.

Universal health coverage and health financing

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.

This definition of UHC embodies three related objectives:

  • Equity in access to health services - everyone who needs services should get them, not only those who can pay for them;
  • The quality of health services should be good enough to improve the health of those receiving services; and
  • People should be protected against financial-risk, ensuring that the cost of using services does not put people at risk of financial harm.

UHC is firmly based on the WHO constitution of 1948 declaring health a fundamental human right and on the Health for All agenda set by the Alma Ata declaration in 1978. UHC cuts across all of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and brings hope of better health and protection for the world’s poorest.


UHC: lessons to guide country actions on health financing
The global push for universal health coverage