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High-Performance Health-Financing for UHC: Driving Sustainable, Inclusive Growth in the 21st Century

by Public Health Update

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High-Performance Health-Financing for UHC: Driving Sustainable, Inclusive Growth in the 21st Century

The majority of developing countries will fail to achieve their targets for Universal Health Coverage (UHC)1 and the health- and poverty-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) unless they take urgent steps to strengthen their health financing. Just over a decade out from the SDG deadline of 2030, 3.6 billion people do not receive the most essential health services they need, and 100 million are pushed into poverty from paying out-of-pocket for health services. The evidence is strong that progress towards UHC, core to SDG 3, will spur inclusive and sustainable economic growth, yet this will not happen unless countries achieve high-performance health financing, defined here as funding levels that are adequate and sustainable; pooling that is sufficient to spread the financial risks of ill-health; and spending that is efficient and equitable to assure desired levels of health service coverage, quality, and financial protection for all people— with resilience and sustainability.

The UHC financing agenda fits squarely within the core mission of the G20 to promote sustainable, inclusive growth and to mitigate potential risks to the global economy. All countries stand to benefit from realizing quality and efficiency gains and freeing productive resources in one of the largest global industries. All countries will also benefit from health financing designed to strengthen health security, thus reducing the frequency, spread and impacts of disease outbreaks, and other negative cross-border spillover effects of failing health systems. Anchoring this agenda in the G20 Finance Track and promoting joint leadership by finance and health ministers provides the opportunity to break down the silos and tackle the political economy challenges that continue to hamper progress toward high-performance health financing for UHC.

High-performance health financing advances UHC and sustainable, inclusive growth

It is no longer plausible to argue that health spending is purely consumption. High-performance health financing is an investment that benefits the economy through six main channels:

  • Building human capital
  • Increasing skills and jobs, labor market mobility and formalization of the labor force
  • Reducing poverty and inequity
  • Improving efficiency and financial discipline
  • Fostering consumption and competitiveness
  • Strengthening health security

A roadmap for country action

Global consensus has emerged around three lines of action for countries to build high-performance health financing:

  • Scale what works
  • Focus on the “big picture”
  • Strengthen health-financing leadership, governance, and organizational capacity

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