Universal health coverage


“For many Universal Health Care is literally a life or death issue.” the WHO

Health Poverty Action supports the goal of Universal Health Coverage. The recent Ebola crisis in West Africa provides a stark example of the need for it.

Universal Health Coverage means that all people obtain quality health services when they need them, without falling into poverty to pay for them. It is based on the principle that health is a fundamental human right, not a privilege for those who can afford to pay for it.

Universal Health Coverage is made up of three related strands:

Access – to health services, meaning that the services people need are available to all people;
Quality – the health services are good enough to improve the health of those receiving them;
Financial risk protection – ensuring that people do not experience poverty in order to access healthcare.

This is captured in the following ‘cube’ outlined in the 2010 World Health Report with progress towards Universal Health Coverage progressively filling the cube.


The World Health Report: health systems financing: the path to universal coverage. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2010

One of the most effective and equitable ways to finance health systems is through compulsory public financing, predominantly general taxation.

This has been demonstrated by a number of countries including Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Brazil, which fund healthcare from tax revenues. Other countries such as Thailand, Mexico and Kyrgyzstan have pooled taxation with insurance contributions.

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