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Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.
Magnitude of problem (Key facts)
What is UHC?
Objectives of UHC
Dimensions of UHC
Importance of UHC
Dispelling Myths about UHC
Evolution of UHC in India
Vision for UHC: HLEG
Primary Health Care
The World Health Organization (WHO) is
a specialized agency of the United
Nations that is concerned with
international public health.
It was established on 7 April 1948, and is
headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
The WHO is a member of the United Nations
Its predecessor, the Health Organisation,
was an agency of the League of Nations.
World Health Day helps create awareness
and action on a global scale.
The conversation about different topics
helps everyone live healthier.
You can better understand your own
At least half of the world’s population still do not
have full coverage of essential health services.
About 100 million people are still being pushed into
extreme poverty (defined as living on 1.90 USD or
less a day) because they have to pay for health care.
Over 800 million people (almost 12% of the world’s
population) spent at least 10% of their household
budgets to pay for health care.
All UN Member States have agreed to try to achieve
universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030, as part of
the Sustainable Development Goals.
Key Facts… Indian Picture
UHC means that all individuals and
communities receive the health
services they need without suffering
financial hardship. It includes the full
spectrum of essential, quality health
services, from health promotion to
prevention, treatment, rehabilitation,
and palliative care.
Many countries are already making progress
towards UHC. All countries can take actions to
move more rapidly towards it, or to maintain the
gains they have already made.
Moving towards UHC requires strengthening
health systems in all countries. Robust financing
structures are key. When people have to pay
most of the cost for health services out of their
own pockets, the poor are often unable to
obtain many of the services they need, and even
the rich may be exposed to financial hardship in
the event of severe or long-term illness.
Improving health service coverage and health
outcomes depends on the availability, accessibility,
and capacity of health workers to deliver quality
people-centred integrated care.
Investments in quality primary health care will be
the cornerstone for achieving UHC around the
world. Investing in the primary health care
workforce is the most cost-effective way to ensure
access to essential health care will improve.
Good governance, sound systems of procurement
and supply of medicines and health technologies
and well-functioning health information systems
are other critical elements.
Primary health care can cover the majority of a
person’s health needs throughout their life including
prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative
At least half of the world’s people still lack full
coverage of essential health services.
A fit-for-purpose workforce is essential to deliver
primary health care, yet the world has an estimated
shortfall of 18 million health workers.
Of the 30 countries for which data are available, only
8 spend at least US$ 40 per person on primary health
care per year.
Primary health care is a whole-of-society approach
to health and well-being centred on the needs and
preferences of individuals, families and
communities. It addresses the broader determinants
of health and focuses on the comprehensive and
interrelated aspects of physical, mental and social
health and wellbeing.
It provides whole-person care for health needs
throughout the lifespan, not just for a set of specific
diseases. Primary health care ensures people receive
comprehensive care - ranging from promotion and
prevention to treatment, rehabilitation and palliative
care - as close as feasible to people’s everyday
Primary health care is rooted in a commitment to social
justice and equity and in the recognition of the fundamental
right to the highest attainable standard of health, as echoed
in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights:
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for
the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family,
including food, clothing, housing and medical care and
necessary social services […]”.
The concept of primary health care has been repeatedly
reinterpreted and redefined. In some contexts, it has
referred to the provision of ambulatory or first-level of
personal health care services. In other contexts, primary
health care has been understood as a set of priority health
interventions for low-income populations (also called
selective primary health care). Others have understood
primary health care as an essential component of human
development, focusing on the economic, social and political
Primary health care is well-positioned to respond to
rapid economic, technological, and demographic
changes, all of which impact health and well-being.
Primary health care has been proven to be a highly
effective and efficient way to address the main
causes and risks of poor health and well-being
today, as well as handling the emerging challenges
that threaten health and well-being tomorrow.
Stronger primary health care is essential to achieving
the health-related Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) and universal health coverage.
WHO recognizes the central role of primary health care
for achieving health and well-being for all, at all
ages. WHO works with countries to:
Identify priority areas for improving health and
context-specific approaches which draw on the
technical expertise across the WHO.
Support countries to develop inclusive policies, in
country leadership and health systems based on
primary health care which promote health equity and
works towards achieving the Sustainable
Development Goals and universal health coverage.
Address the wider inequity and social determinants
of health through multisectoral action.
Health is a human
right; it’s time for
health for all.
About 100 million
people are pushed
poverty each year
because of out-of-
pocket spending on
Primary health care should
be the first level of contact
with the health system,
where individuals, families
and communities receive
most of their health care—
from promotion and
prevention to treatment,
rehabilitation and palliative
care—as close as possible
to where they live and
Health workers have a
crucial role to play
educating patients on
how to take care of their
health, coordinating care
and advocating for their
patients’ needs to health
facility managers and
The member states of WHO have endorsed universal
coverage as an important goal for the development
of health financing system but, in order to achieve
this long-term solution, flexible short-term
responses are needed.
There is no universal formula. Indeed, for many
countries, it will take some years to achieve universal
coverage and the path is complex.
The responses each country takes will be determined
partly by their own histories and the way their health
financial systems have developed to date, as well as
by social preference relating to concepts of solidarity
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