Universal Health Coverage

© GIZ/Dirk Ostermeier

Everyone should have access to health care. Although there is widespread consensus on this, the realization of this objective calls for comprehensive solutions. This is where the concept of universal health coverage (UHC) comes in.

Universal health coverage (UHC) means that everyone should have access to health services of adequate quality without the risk of falling into poverty due to the resulting costs. UHC is one of the Sustainable Development Goal in the United Nations 2030 Agenda and therefore enjoys worldwide recognition.

The UHC concept encompasses three dimensions of protection:

Population: No one should be excluded from health services. GIZ’s work on universal access is based on human rights and anti-discrimination. People should have a voice in decisions and be able to shape health systems.

Services: GIZ supports approaches that promote health, and works to improve prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. This requires sustainable and stable health systems, which have peoples’ needs in focus. Private-sector services and decentralized administration must be aligned with national strategies and policies.

Costs: Financial protection during illness is based on the principles of solidarity and fairness. This requires funding mechanisms that balance out risk across all population groups.
Although the concept of UHC enjoys broad support, the path to realizing health care for all is complex and sometimes contentious. The challenge lies in harmonizing the values and interests of various groups and decision-makers. Technical support alone is therefore not enough to achieve reform. Ultimately, UHC is a question of social justice and requires political solutions that stretch far beyond the health sector.

The objective of universal access to health services can only be achieved if representatives of the various interests groups and sectors work together. Everyone must be open to this dialogue. GIZ works towards this goal not only in partner countries, but also at regional and global levels.

Additional information