Universal health coverage means a fairer, healthier world for all

13 December 2021

As the world marks another Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, the COVID-19 pandemic is relentlessly magnifying the consequences of neglecting the political, social and economic inequities that divide the world. Health for all—and health systems that protect everyone regardless of race, religion, gender or wealth—is both a human right and a prerequisite to achieving sustainable socio-economic development.

Renewed and stronger political will is needed now, more than ever, to place health equity high on the global agenda and achieve universal health coverage.

Building a fairer, healthier world where everyone can get the health care they need, when they need it, without falling into financial hardship, relies on greater investments in primary health care.

The UHC Partnership, one of WHO’s largest initiatives for international cooperation for primary health care and universal health coverage, is providing vital and timely support to help countries take advantage of the opportunity to build more resilient and equitable health systems as part of a sustainable response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UHC Partnership works in 115 countries with funding from the European Union, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Irish Aid, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Government of Japan – Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the United Kingdom – Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Belgium, Canada and Germany.

Many of these countries are demonstrating how primary health care-based systems are effective in empowering communities to choose healthier lifestyles, prevent diseases, access early detection, treatment and recovery services.

Country experiences and lessons from COVID-19 are documented in WHO’s special series of stories from the field.

WHO Eastern Mediterranean RegionThe Occupied Palestinian Territory is working to transform its hospital sector and strengthen linkages with primary health care, ensuring that patients receive care that is compassionate, humane and responsive to their needs and preferences.


©WHO/Noor-Tanya Habjouqa


WHO Western Pacific Region: In the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao, the COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly affecting the mental health of the population. The country is taking major steps to deliver mental health care nationwide as part of a long-term national effort.


©WHO/Vannaseng Insal


WHO Africa Region: In Kenya, low uptake of COVID-19 vaccines has hampered efforts to protect the population from the pandemic. The Government has addressed vaccine hesitancy and misinformation through advocacy, risk communication and social mobilization, effectively increasing demand and uptake by nearly five-fold.


DUMMA women’s group in Siaya Country©WHO/John Kisimir


WHO Americas RegionTrinidad and Tobago is strengthening its response to the high burden of noncommunicable diseases by empowering and equipping communities to take charge of their health through prevention and self-management approaches.


©PAHO/WHO/Denith McNicolls


WHO South-East Asia RegionBangladesh instituted an ambitious public health intervention, providing a community clinic for every 6,000 people. When COVID-19 overwhelmed the system, community health workers stepped up to ensure that essential health services continued and people had the information they needed to stay protected.


©WHO Bangladesh/Nuruzzaman


WHO European RegionAzerbaijan is strengthening its health workforce to boost the responsiveness and resilience of their health system. This primary health care approach helps ensure that rural communities can access the services they need and are not left behind in COVID-19 response and vaccination efforts.


©WHO Azerbaijan