Universal health coverage means that all people have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. It includes the full range of essential health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.
Currently, at least half of the people in the world do not receive the health services they need. About 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty each year because of out-of-pocket spending on health. This must change.
To make health for all a reality, we need: individuals and communities who have access to high quality health services so that they take care of their own health and the health of their families; skilled health workers providing quality, people-centred care; and policy-makers committed to investing in universal health coverage.
Universal health coverage should be based on strong, people-centred primary health care. Good health systems are rooted in the communities they serve. They focus not only on preventing and treating disease and illness, but also on helping to improve well-being and quality of life.
WHO identifies achieving universal coverage as a strategic priority, with the goal of 1 billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage by 2023.
In countries with fragile health systems, we focus on technical assistance to build national institutions and service delivery to fill critical gaps in emergencies. In more robust health system settings, we drive public health impact towards health coverage for all through policy dialogue for the systems of the future and strategic support to improve performance.
This work is supported by normative guidance and agreements; data, research and innovation; and leadership in the realms of diplomacy, advocacy, gender equality, health equity and human rights, multisectoral action, and finance.
UHC does not mean free access to every possible health service for every person. Every country has a different path to achieving UHC and deciding what to cover based on the needs of their people and the resources at hand. It does, however, emphasize the importance of access to health services and information as a basic human right.
WHO’s work is aligned with SDG target 3.8, which focuses on achieving universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
Approximately half the world’s population lacks access to such essential health services. Therefore, to achieve SDG target 3.8 of Universal Health Coverage for all by 2030, at least 1 billion more people will need to have access to essential health services in each five-year period between 2015 and 2030.
The essence of UHC is universal access to a strong and resilient people-centred health system with primary care as its foundation. Community-based services, health promotion and disease prevention are key components as well as immunization, which constitutes a strong platform for primary care upon which UHC needs to be built.
spend at least 10% of their household income on health care.
are driven into poverty each year through out-of-pocket health spending.
National Health Policies Strategies and Plans are aimed at moving towards Universal Health Coverage
do not have access to the health care they need.
WHO issues first global report on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in health and six guiding principles for its design and use
At Local Production Forum, WHO and partners highlight key steps to improve access to health technologies
WHO and Canada: Working together to end the acute phase of the COVID-19 and equipping countries to emerge from the pandemic with stronger and more equitable health systems
Why we need to focus on quality care for women and newborns
WHO announces 2nd edition Health for All Film Festival shortlist and jury composition
COVID-19: One year later – WHO Director-General’s new year message
New WHO tool to help countries advance towards universal health coverage
Standing up for sexual and reproductive health and human rights
Burkina Faso and Thailand achieving UHC for Sexual and Reproductive Health
Primary health care around the world: delivering health services to people where they need it
Member States voice historic support for a better and more sustainably funded WHO at 74th World Health Assembly
Zimbabwe: Data-driven decisions maintain availability and access to essential health services during the COVID-19 response
Universal Health Coverage Day 2020 – Health for All: Protect Everyone
Accessing essential health services in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable settings
Assessing country progress in health financing for UHC
Improving service access and quality
Addressing the political economy of health financing reform
Working with parliamentarians to achieve UHC
Strengthening Private Sector Engagement for UHC
Strengthening legal frameworks for UHC
Universal Health Coverage Partnership
The UHC Partnership supports policy dialogue, with a view to promoting universal health coverage in 115 partner countries.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are a recognized group of 38 UN Member States and 20 non-Members/ Associate Members of Regional Commissions, located in…
Digital Adaptation Kits (DAKs) are part of the SMART guidelines initiative to ensure WHO’s evidence-based guideline content is accurately…
WHO virtual press briefing on Ethics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in health , 28 June 2021
Primary health care
Health system governance
Quality of care
Social determinants of health