Health financing

What is health financing for universal coverage?

WHO Sessions at the 13th World Congress in Health Economics

Mihai-Bogdan Lazar

13-17 July 2019 – Basel, Switzerland - WHO’s Department of Health Systems Governance and Financing will be hosting a number of organized pre-congress and congress sessions during the International Health Economics Association (iHEA) 13th World Congress in Basel, Switzerland from 13-17 July 2019. These sessions will bring together policymakers, practitioners and leading academics to engage and build skills on timely research across a range of health systems governance and financing-related topics.

Leveraging PFM for better health in Africa: a WHO synthesis

Credit: WHO

13 June 2019 – Six months after a regional conference on public financial management (PFM) in health co-organised by WHO and AfDB in Nairobi, WHO is releasing a synthesis paper produced jointly by WHO Geneva and the WHO Regional Office for Africa. Leveraging public financial management for better health in Africa takes stock of progress and proposes options to accelerate the PFM reform agenda in health in the African region.

Financing common goods for health: a new knowledge programme resource page

Riccardo Mayer/Shutterstock

17 June 2019 - The Ebola crisis and climate-related disasters are bringing home a realization that the World is not ready for pandemics or existing and emerging planetary health challenges. There has been a failure to prioritize investments in core functions that are fundamental to protecting and promoting health and well-being. In order to address these obstacles in under-investments, WHO has developed a knowledge programme on how to finance common goods for health. Common goods for health are population-based functions or interventions that require collective financing based on their associated market failures and impact on health and economic progress.

Health financing policies in fragile and conflict affected settings: new guidance and resource page


20 May 2019 - Extreme poverty, premature mortality, and ill-health are increasingly concentrated in settings characterized by fragility and conflict (FCAS), often within otherwise stable countries. To date there has been no systematic review of health financing policies in these settings, or guidance regarding good practice. WHO has now developed guidance based on an extensive review of the literature and consultation with key stakeholders. Health financing interventions in FCAS can have a significant impact on the future development of a health system and can be consistent with the goals of universal health coverage.

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