Service delivery and safety

Quality in universal health coverage

Quality of health care services is critical to achieving effective universal health coverage (UHC). Resilient health services require quality as a foundation. The success and value of UHC depends on its ability to provide safe, efficient, quality services to all people, everywhere.


WHO is working across a number of areas related to quality in the context of universal health coverage. These areas are of immediate relevance in the ongoing global dialogue around UHC, and are united by their system-wide roles in fostering the focus on quality required for its realisation:

  • quality as an essential contributor to UHC efforts with an emphasis on grounded technical work that can be contextualized and replicated everywhere;
  • strong, resilient health services that can cope with shocks to the system such as those caused by public health emergencies and outbreaks;
  • the application of partnerships for improvement to help support change at the frontline of health care in the efforts to achieve quality UHC; and
  • cross-cutting technical areas with clear linkages with quality UHC, such as essential public health functions and the health-related issues of migration.

Quality: essential foundation to health for all

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day highlighted that there are still far too many people failing to access quality, basic health services without risk of financial hardship. UHC must make health services more accessible while ensuring the health services provided are of good quality and will not cause harm. The incorporation of quality within every aspect of UHC is essential for the best outcome for patients and populations. When focusing on people-centred health services, quality improves. WHO’s Executive Board has endorsed a new Framework on integrated, people-centred health services at its session in January 2016. At the frontline, WHO is actively supporting Member States in this area of work through improving integration and encouraging greater people-centredness of health services, as well as strengthening quality.