Health Economics and Planning

Health Economics and Planning

Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr Margret Chan has committed her second term to advancing Universal health Coverage (UHC) as "the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer. It is a powerful equalizer. It is the best way to cement the gains made during the past decade”. In September, the Sixty-Fifth Session of the Regional Committee for South-East Asia unanimously endorsed a Regional Strategy for Universal Health Coverage (Resolution SEA/RC65/R6).

The Technical Discussion on UHC was organized from 10-12 July 2013 in SEARO , New Delhi to prepare for discussion at the Sixth-sixth session of the Regional Committee as requested by Member States. Country experience with UHC as well as key technical issues of health systems areas and disease specific issues were discussed by Member States and experts.

Universal Health Coverage

Globally, millions of people are denied the right to health because they lack access to health care. Each year, 100 million people are plunged into poverty because they do not have any form of social protection. This is a reality that dramatically impacts not only on an individuals’ health and life expectancy, but also the lives of their families and the economies to which they contribute.

The resolution ‘Moving Towards Universal Health Coverage’ adopted by the UN General Assembly on 12 December is a decisive step in the fight against health inequality and the drive to improve people’s health outcomes.

WHO's Member States have set themselves the target of developing their health financing systems to ensure that all people can use health services, while being protected against financial hardship associated with paying for them.

Health Financing Strategy for Asia-Pacific Region

Despite impressive economic development in the Asia-Pacific region, many people suffer financial catastrophe and impoverishment each year because they have to pay for health care. Many others forgo health services because of the costs of health care. This reflects insufficient health spending by many countries in the region, limited prepayment mechanisms and safety nets, and an overreliance on out-of-pocket expenditures to finance the costs of health care.

The World Health Organization developed a new health financing strategy for Asia Pacific region to address these concerns, with the ultimate aim of achieving universal coverage, where all people have access to appropriate promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services at an affordable cost.

National Health Policies, Strategies and Plans

National health policies, strategies, and plans play an essential role in defining a country's vision, priorities, budgetary decisions and course of action for improving and maintaining the health of its people. Most countries have been using the development of national health policies, strategies, and plans for decades to give direction and coherence to their efforts to improve health.

Experience shows that the policy dialogue for building comprehensive national health policies, strategies and plans is as much a political process as a technical one. It requires attention for the inspirational side of defining vision and policy; it also requires attention for operational detail. The balance between vision, policy, strategic planning and attention for implementation varies considerably from country to country. Given the overarching importance of context, blueprint approaches are unlikely to be of much assistance. Nevertheless, there are ways of going about policy dialogue that are more likely to produce robust policies, strategies and plans.

Publications and Documents

Health in South-East Asia: A SEARO Newsletter on Universal Health Coverage September 2013

10-12 July 2013. Technical Discussion on Universal Health Coverage,New Delhi, India.

Meetings and events

18-19 Feb 2013. Ministerial meeting on universal health coverage, Geneva.

Upcoming Events

23-25 April 2014. Conference on Accelerating Universal Health Coverage in South-East Asia Region, Paro, Bhutan.

Health Economics and Planning
World Health Organization
Regional Office for South-East Asia
Indraprashtha Estate
Mahatma Gandhi Marg
New Delhi 110 002 India
Tel: +91 11 2337 0804
Fax: +91 11 2337 8510