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Universal Health Coverage

Supporting the Universal Health Coverage Coalition

WHO's Universal Health Coverage (UHC) data platform shows where countries need to improve access to services, and where they need to improve information. 

The platform offers the latest data on access to health services globally and in each of WHO's 194 member states, along with information about equality of access. 

"Any country seeking to achieve UHC must be able to measure it," said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. "Data on its own won’t prevent disease or save lives, but it shows where governments need to act to strengthen their health systems and protect people from the potentially devastating effects of health care costs."

UHC means that all people and communities can access the health services they need without facing financial hardship. So countries aiming to provide UHC need to build health systems that deliver the quality services and products people need, when and where they need them, through an adequately resourced and well-trained health workforce.

The ability to provide strong primary health care services at community level is essential to make progress towards universal health coverage.

In 2015, the world’s governments set themselves a target to achieve UHC by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UHC is not only essential to achieving the health-related targets, it will also contribute to other goals such as no poverty (Goal 1), and decent work and economic growth (Goal 8).

In November 2016, the United Nations working group responsible for deciding how to monitor progress towards the SDGs agreed on two measures for UHC: the proportion of a population with access to 16 essential health services; and the proportion of a population that spends more than 25% of household income on health. WHO’s new UHC Data Portal offers data on both indicators in a single place, offering an initial snapshot of the status of UHC globally and by country.

The portal shows that:

Less than half of children with suspected pneumonia in low income countries are taken to an appropriate health provider.

Of the estimated 10.4 million new cases of tuberculosis in 2015, 6.1 million were detected and officially notified in 2015, leaving a gap of 4.3 million.

High blood pressure affects 1.13 billion people. Over half of the world's adults with high blood pressure in 2015 lived in Asia. Around 24% of men and 21% of women had uncontrolled blood pressure in 2015.

About 44% of WHO’s member states report having less than 1 physician per 1000 population. Africa as a region suffers almost 25% of the global burden of disease, but has only 3% of the world’s health workers.

"Expanding access to services will involve increasing spending for most countries," said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation. "But as important as what is spent is how it’s spent. All countries can make progress towards UHC, even at low spending levels.”"

Some countries have made good progress towards UHC with low spending, while others achieve lower levels of coverage even though they spend more. And among countries with similarly low levels of spending, there are large variations in coverage levels.

Note to the editor about UHC:

All UN Member States have agreed to aim to achieve UHC by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

UHC provides access to quality essential health services; access to safe, effective and affordable essential medicines and vaccines, and protection from financial risk.

At least 400 million people globally lack access to one or more essential health services.

Every year 100 million are pushed into poverty and 150 million people suffer financial catastrophe because of out-of-pocket expenditure on health services.

On average, about 32% of each country’s health expenditure comes from out-of-pocket payments.

Ensuring equitable access requires a transformation in how health services are funded, managed and delivered so that services are centred around the needs of people and communities.

More than 18 million additional health workers will be needed by 2030 to meet the health workforce requirements of the Sustainable Development Goals and universal health coverage targets, with gaps concentrated in low- and lower middle-income countries.

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Geographical coverage: 

02. zero hunger

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

03. good health and well-being

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

05. gender equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

06. clean water and sanitation

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

10. reduced inequalities

Reduce inequality within and among countries

11. sustainable cities and communities

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

12. sustainable consumption and production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13. climate action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

17. partnerships for the goals

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Key data

Key data