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Premier global health journal, The Lancet, releases series on universal health coverage

Washington D.C., September 7, 2012 Every year 100 million people are pushed into poverty because they have to pay for health services directly. With support from the Rockefeller Foundation, Results for Development Institute has partnered with the world's premier global health journal, The Lancet, on a special collection of papers exploring the social, political, and economic issues around the global movement towards universal health coverage (UHC) defined by the World Health Organization as everyone in a population having access to appropriate, promotive, preventive, curative, and rehabilitative health care when they need it and at an affordable cost. This series comes at a time when UHC has been at the forefront of the global public health conversation and is a significant step forward in an effort to achieve a UN resolution on UHC, and embed UHC prominently within the post-Millennium Development Goals framework.

This first of its kind series addresses and expands upon three critical elements in the global movement towards UHC: the effects of universal health coverage on population health; government involvement in universal health coverage, and how low-income and lower middle-income countries in Africa and Asia are progressing towards universal health coverage.

Since the release of the 2010 World Health Report, the global momentum for universal health coverage has continued to grow. At the 2012 World Health Assembly, Margaret Chan announced that UHC "is the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer". Numerous countries, from Thailand to Mexico to South Africa are experimenting with models for moving toward UHC by utilizing health financing mechanisms to protect against financial risk, increase access to essential health services, and improve health outcomes.

"Universal Health Coverage is the most powerful equalizer and accelerator for improving health and increasing societal resilience, and The Lancet's focus on UHC is a testament to the prominence this issue has achieved within the global health agenda," said Rockefeller Foundation's Managing Director for Health, Dr. Jeanette Vega. "It is now more critical than ever that UHC is recognized as the future of the global health agenda for the 25 million families pushed into poverty each year because of health costs."

"The global movement toward universal health coverage will change the fabric of human society in the decades ahead," said Results for Development Institute's President David de Ferranti. "Rising incomes and growth in Africa and Asia are driving citizens to insist on better policies that reduce out-of-pocket payments for health services. It is important that the global community recognize that moving toward universal health coverage is now a priority. At stake are the lives and wellbeing of 3.5 billion people who are struggling to escape the grip of poverty."

The series features viewpoints from a diverse set of global actors in the public health space, including David Evans & Carissa Etienne of the World Health Organization, Julio Frenk, the former Mexican Minister of Health and current Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, an introduction from Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin and Results for Development President David de Ferranti, and an analysis from Jeffrey Sachs looking at how poor people in low-income countries can achieve an adequate standard of health care. For a complete breakdown of the series, please see below.


  • Evidence suggest that progress towards universal health coverage results in substantial improvements to population health, Professor Peter Smith, Business School and Centre for Health Policy, Imperial College London, UK,
  • Universal health coverage has not been achieved in any system which relies predominantly on out-of-pocket payments, Dr William Savedoff, Center for Global Development, Washington D.C., USA
  • Low-income and lower-middle-income countries progressing towards universal health coverage do not conform to existing archetypes, Gina Lagomarsino, Results for Development Institute, Washington D.C., USA


  • Universal health coverage is within our reach if we persevere, For Professor Jeffrey Sachs, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, USA, please contact Erin Trowbridge,


  • Universal health coverage: the third global health transition?, by Judith Rodin and David Ferranti
  • Universal health coverage: good health, good economics, by Julio Frenk and David Ferranti
  • Universal health coverage is a development issue, by David Evans, Robert Marten, and Carissa Etienne

Profile of World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan


Contact: Nkem Wellington
Results for Development Institute

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