Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has been defined as a policy approach enabling easy access to health services for people of all ages, groups and financial strength. WHO (2013) explained the UHC concept as development issue where people’s ‘right to health’ is protected allowing them to access to quality health services. Financial hardship is an important issue which prevents poor people from accessing health services. According to WHO (2013), 1.4 billion people on earth are not receiving the required health services. UHC policy covers the people who cannot access health services due to their poor financial circumstances.

WHO(2013) outlined low levels of national income, weaker health systems, changing disease patterns, aging populations and high economic and social inequalities as the challenges to implement UHC. Financial weaknesses which include poor economy and poor households adversely affect health sector particularly influencing nutrition, sanitation and environmental exposure of individuals (Eloviano, n.d.; Sachs, J.D., 2012). Coverage of health services, financial coverage and population coverage has been outlined by WHO (2010 cited in Sherry et al., 2012).

Implementation of UHC in middle and low income countries has a number of barriers. However, successful implementation of UHC in Thailand was studied by Ghislandi et al (2013) where 99.5% of the population has at least one type of health insurance. Expanding and strengthening public health systems and increasing taxation power of government to create health funding  are necessary to achieve UHC goals (Eloviano, n.d.) which is supported by Sengupta (2013 ) in his study on health care system of India where private health care accounts for 80% of outpatients and 60% of in-patient care.


Elovainio, R. (n.d.) Improving Health Outcomes by Gearing Health Systems towards Universal Health Coverage. [Online] Available at http://www.proparco.fr [Accessed on 20 August 2013].

Ghislandi, S., Manachotphong, W. and Perego, M.E.V. (2013) The Impact of Universal Health Coverage on Healthcare Consumption and Risky Behaviours: Evidence from Thailand. [Online] Available at www.healthsystems2020.org [Accessed on 20 August 2013].

Haas, S., Hatt, L., Leegwater, A., El-Khoury, M. and Wong, W. (2012) Indicators for Measuring Universal Health Coverage: A Five-Country Analysis (DRAFT). Bethesda, MD: Health Systems 20/20 project, Abt Associates Inc.

Sachs, J. D. (2012) Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Low-Income Settings. The Lancet. Vol. 30(9845), pp. 944-947.

Sengupta, A. (2013) Universal Health Care in India: Making It Public, making It a Reality [Online] Available at www.municipalprojectservices.org [Accessed on 20 August 2013].

World Health Organization (WHO)/ The World Bank (2013) Towards Universal Health Coverage: Concepts, Lessons, and Public Policy Challenges. [Online] Available at www.who.int [Accessed on 20 August 2013].


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