High-performance health financing for universal health coverage: driving sustainable, inclusive growth in the 21st century

Health Universal health care Finance Sustainable development

The majority of developing countries will fail to achieve their targets for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the health- and poverty-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) unless they take urgent steps to strengthen their health financing. 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. Closing the substantial UHC financing gap in 54 low and lower middle-income countries will require a strong mix of domestic and international investment. G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors can help countries seize the opportunities of high-performance health financing by adopting and steering a UHC financing resilience and sustainability agenda.

The present report and the initiatives it recommends for countries and partners, including the G20, aim to identify specific unmet needs to which the G20 Finance Track can contribute, consistent with the guidance on health financing for UHC emerging through the WHO-led Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Wellbeing for All (GAP).

Part 1 of this report, entitled “Time to Act,” aims to show why health financing for UHC matters and why now. Section 1.1 explains how robust health financing and UHC gains together contribute to sustainable, inclusive economic growth. It also goes beyond well-established arguments on health, productivity, and growth to show how effective health financing can advance additional policy objectives important for finance ministers, including financial discipline, increased international competitiveness, and stronger health security, with its associated economic benefits. Sections 1.2 and 1.3 then show that downside risks are growing, in light of slow UHC progress to date, coupled with emerging epidemiologic, demographic, and other threats that will both intensify upward pressures on health expenditures and constrain countries’ capacity to generate revenues for health. The net result is a strong case for action to reinforce health-financing capacities and institutions in developing countries now.

Part 2, “A Roadmap for Action,” sets out an agenda for progress toward high-performance health financing. Section 2.1 presents an emerging consensus on key actions that countries can take to build robust health financing for UHC. Section 2.2 shows how collaboration among countries and partners can accelerate gains. Finally, Section 2.3 explains how G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors can make decisive contributions to this agenda.

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