Health systems

Financing for Universal Health Coverage

World Health Report 2010

Technical Brief Series


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Overview: what this report's all about

In recent years, increasingly vocal demands for better health coverage have pushed health further up political agendas. As a result, governments worldwide are endeavouring to work out the best way to meet citizens' expectations. All WHO Member States have set themselves the target of developing their health financing systems in ways that are capable of ensuring - and, critically, sustaining - universal coverage. In so doing, they find themselves grappling with three fundamental questions:

  • Where and how can they find the financial resources?
  • How can they protect people from the financial consequences of ill health?
  • How can they make optimum use of resources?

As they strive to find answers to these questions, they must also factor in the need to ensure that coverage is equitable (a major failing in many contemporary systems), and to establish reliable and useable mechanisms to monitor and evaluate progress.

In this report, the World Health Organization maps out what countries can do to modify their financing systems so they can move more quickly to universal coverage, and to maintain it once it has been achieved. The report builds both on lessons learnt and on new research and provides an action agenda for countries at all stages of development about what they can do domestically. It also proposes ways that the international community can better support efforts in low income countries to achieve universal coverage and improve health outcomes.

As the world grapples with the combined challenges of economic slowdown; the increasing globalization of the economic system and of diseases; and growing demands for chronic care, the need for universal health coverage (and a strategy for financing it) has never been greater.

Health systems

A well-functioning health system
working in harmony is built on having
trained and motivated health
workers, a well-maintained infrastructure,
and a reliable supply of medicines
and technologies, backed by adequate
funding, strong health plans and
evidence-based policies.