Towards Universal Health Coverage


The cliché definition of health as not necessarily the absence of diseases but the state of complete physical, mental and social well being has a wider contextual meaning when linked to health care. Health care is embedded in health systems as they are the primary drivers of accessing health.

According to the WHO World Health Report, the narrowest boundaries of definition of health system stems from the control of curative activities under the aegis of a country’s Ministry of Health. This excludes inter-sectoral activities directly affecting healthcare such as water and health sanitation. More broadly would be to define health systems as all activities directly contributing to healthcare. This latter definition has been endorsed by the WHO and the SRPG (Scientific Peer Review Group) and aims at making governments focus on activities that improve health. (WHO World Health Report, 2004)

From this definition it is then easy to determine the main objectives of an effective health system and these include improving the health of the population, responding to people’s expectations and providing financial protection. These objectives are achieved through the achievement of intermediate goals which include assuring equity and universal access to healthcare, assuring quality of care and fairness in contribution to cost of healthcare (Murray and Evans, 2002). Perhaps assuring equity and universal care to health care seems to be the most potent tool in achieving the objectives of an effective healthcare system in view of the challenges posed by accessing health care by the vulnerable poor and less privileged especially in the developing economies of the world.