Health financing for universal coverage

What is universal coverage?

Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people 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.

School children in South Africa, 2009.
WHO/I Brown

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.

Universal health coverage and health financing

Among other things, achieving UHC requires a good health financing system. Find out more about health financing:


References

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