News overview

ITM study underscores necessary conditions for Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage, health for all without financial hardship, has been part of the international agenda for years now. Still, it remains a far dream for millions all over the world and a challenging task for policymakers. On request by the Belgian development cooperation, researchers of the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) reviewed a decade of policies and practice towards universal coverage in ten countries in three continents in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The ITM study, which was presented in Antwerp on February 8th, puts forward a series of conditions that have to be fulfilled to make progress on Universal Health Coverage, and to make sure that such coverage also reaches the most vulnerable in society.

According to the researchers, the presence of accessible and well functioning health services is a first and necessary condition to provide health for all. They also stress the need for more and better data to monitor progress, and for harmonisation of fragmented financing efforts.

"If we want to guarantee health for all, a performant health system is not only needed in times of crisis, as the Ebola epidemic shockingly reminded us, but equally so in everyday life", resumes Werner Soors, who coordinated the study.

The take-home lesson is clear: if development cooperation wants to effectively contribute to progress towards Universal Health Coverage, efforts will be needed to strengthen first and foremost the healthcare delivery systems in all countries. This message is particularly relevant for the Belgian development cooperation, which is mainly present in fragile states where health systems are weak.

Towards universal coverage in the majority world

Spread the word! Share this story on

Related stories