Policy Brief: Anchoring universal health coverage in the right to health: What difference would it make?

World Health Organization

Publication date: November 2015


Universal Health Coverage UHC is a critical component of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which include a specific health goal: “Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages”. Within this health goal, a specific target for UHC has been proposed: “Achieve UHC, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all”. In this context, the opportunity exists to unite global health and the fight against poverty through action that is focussed on clear goals.

For WHO, “UHC is, by definition, a practical expression of the concern for health equity and the right to health”(1); thus promoting UHC advances the overall objective of WHO, namely the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible standard of health as a fundamental right (3), and signal a return to the ideals of the Declaration of Alma Ata and the WHO Global Strategy for Health for All by the Year 2000 (4). Yet some argue that the “current discourse on UHC is in sharp contrast with the vision of Primary Health Care envisaged in the Alma Ata declaration of 1978” (5). The underlying assumption of this paper is that efforts towards achieving UHC do promote some, but not necessarily all, of the efforts required from governments for the realization of the right to health.

While this publication explores how efforts to advance towards UHC overlap with efforts to realize the right to health, its main focus is the gaps that exist between UHC efforts and right to health efforts.


KeywordsPalabras clave:

Universal Health Coverage; Equity in Health; Right to Health


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