Universal health coverage

Progress towards universal health coverage in BRICS

02 June 2014 -- Over the last two decades, Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa – the countries known as BRICS – have undertaken health-system reforms to make progress towards universal health coverage (UHC). This theme issue of the "WHO Bulletin" on BRICS and global health looks at the main factors shaping how the five countries are already influencing global health, as well as some of their major domestic achievements and challenges.

Mexico advances towards universal health coverage

The comprehensive treatment for breast cancer that Martha Alida Solórzano received is the direct result of Mexico’s national insurance programme known as Seguro Popular (Popular Insurance), launched in 2003. The programme guarantees access to an integrated package of health services to more than 50 million Mexicans – nearly half the population – who did not already have coverage under the country’s social security system.

What is universal health coverage?

The goal of universal health coverage is to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them. This requires:

• a strong, efficient, well-run health system;
• a system for financing health services;
• access to essential medicines and technologies;
• a sufficient capacity of well-trained, motivated health workers.

Video: The many paths towards universal health coverage

15 August 2013 -- Universal health coverage ensures that all people get the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. The goal of moving towards universal health coverage is gaining momentum around the world. This video, produced by WHO, explains the concept of universal coverage and uses examples from six countries -- China, Oman, Mexico, Rwanda, Thailand and Turkey -- to show ways that all countries can provide accessible and affordable care for their people.

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General talking with a group of people.

“I regard universal health coverage as the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer. It is inclusive. It unifies services and delivers them in a comprehensive and integrated way, based on primary health care.”

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General


Essentials of universal health coverage