The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that all UN Member States have agreed to, try to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030. This includes financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
- Universal coverage ensures that all people can use health services without financial hardship
- All people should have access to the health services they need
- Out-of-pocket payments push 100 million people into poverty every year
- The most effective way to provide universal coverage is to share the costs across the population
- All countries are continually seeking more funds for health care
- In 2010, 79 countries devoted less than 10% of government expenditure to health
- Countries are finding innovative ways to raise revenue for health
- Only eight of the worldâ€™s 49 poorest countries have any chance of financing a set of basic services with their own domestic resources by 2015
- Globally, 20â€“40% of resources spent on health are wasted
- All countries can do more in order to move towards universal coverage
Universal coverage ensures that all people can use health services without financial hardship (Top)
World Health Organization (WHO) Member States have set themselves the target of developing their health financing systems to ensure universal coverage. Universal coverage means that all people can use health services, while being protected against financial hardship associated with paying for them.
All people should have access to the health services they need (Top)
There are wide variations in coverage of essential health services both between and within countries. For example, in some countries less than 20% of births are attended by a skilled health worker, compared with almost 100% in other countries.
Out-of-pocket payments push 100 million people into poverty every year (Top)
Every year 100 million people are pushed into poverty because they have to pay for health services directly. To reduce these financial risks, countries such as Thailand are moving away from a system funded largely by out-of-pocket payments to one funded by prepaid funds â€“ a mix of taxes and insurance contributions.
The most effective way to provide universal coverage is to share the costs across the population (Top)
In this way, people make compulsory contributions â€“ through taxation and/or insurance â€“ to a pool of funds. They can then draw on these funds in case of illness, regardless of how much they have contributed. In Kyrgyzstan, for example, the pooling of general revenues with insurance payroll taxes has helped improve access to health care.
All countries are continually seeking more funds for health care (Top)
Even richer countries struggle to keep up with the rising costs of technological advances and the increasing health demands of their populations. Low-income countries often have insufficient resources to ensure access to even a very basic set of health services.
In 2010, 79 countries devoted less than 10% of government expenditure to health (Top)
Governments need to give higher priority to health in their budgets as domestic financial support is crucial for sustaining universal coverage in the long term. If African Union countries increased government expenditure on health to 15% as promised in the Abuja Declaration in 2001, they could together raise an extra US$ 29 billion per year for health.
All countries can improve their tax collection mechanisms. They can also consider introducing levies or taxes earmarked for health, such as â€œsinâ€ taxes on the sale of tobacco and alcohol. As an example, Ghana funded its national health insurance partly by increasing value-added tax by 2.5%.
Only eight of the worldâ€™s 49 poorest countries have any chance of financing a set of basic services with their own domestic resources by 2015 (Top)
Increased external support is vital. Global solidarity is needed to support the poorest countries. If high-income countries were to immediately keep their international commitments for official development assistance, the estimated shortfall in funds to reach the health-related Millennium Development Goals would be virtually eliminated.
Globally, 20â€“40% of resources spent on health are wasted (Top)
Common causes of inefficiencies include demotivated health workers, duplication of services, and inappropriate or overuse of medicines and technologies. In 2008 for example, France saved almost US$2 billion by use of generic medicines wherever possible.
All countries can do more in order to move towards universal coverage (Top)
The World Health Organization has developed an action plan to support countries in developing good health financing strategies. Engaging all stakeholders and improving the health system as a whole are also essential to move towards universal coverage.