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BMC International Health and Human Rights

, 15:17

First Online: 04 July 2015Received: 15 January 2015Accepted: 29 June 2015DOI: 10.1186-s12914-015-0056-9

Cite this article as: Abiiro, G.A. & De Allegri, M. BMC Int Health Hum Rights 2015 15: 17. doi:10.1186-s12914-015-0056-9


BackgroundThere is an emerging global consensus on the importance of universal health coverage UHC, but no unanimity on the conceptual definition and scope of UHC, whether UHC is achievable or not, how to move towards it, common indicators for measuring its progress, and its long-term sustainability. This has resulted in various interpretations of the concept, emanating from different disciplinary perspectives. This paper discusses the various dimensions of UHC emerging from these interpretations and argues for the need to pay attention to the complex interactions across the various components of a health system in the pursuit of UHC as a legal human rights issue.

DiscussionThe literature presents UHC as a multi-dimensional concept, operationalized in terms of universal population coverage, universal financial protection, and universal access to quality health care, anchored on the basis of health care as an international legal obligation grounded in international human rights laws. As a legal concept, UHC implies the existence of a legal framework that mandates national governments to provide health care to all residents while compelling the international community to support poor nations in implementing this right. As a humanitarian social concept, UHC aims at achieving universal population coverage by enrolling all residents into health-related social security systems and securing equitable entitlements to the benefits from the health system for all. As a health economics concept, UHC guarantees financial protection by providing a shield against the catastrophic and impoverishing consequences of out-of-pocket expenditure, through the implementation of pooled prepaid financing systems. As a public health concept, UHC has attracted several controversies regarding which services should be covered: comprehensive services vs. minimum basic package, and priority disease-specific interventions vs. primary health care.

SummaryAs a multi-dimensional concept, grounded in international human rights laws, the move towards UHC in LMICs requires all states to effectively recognize the right to health in their national constitutions. It also requires a human rights-focused integrated approach to health service delivery that recognizes the health system as a complex phenomenon with interlinked functional units whose effective interaction are essential to reach the equilibrium called UHC.

KeywordsUniversal health coverage Multi-dimensional concept Rights-based Population coverage Financial protection Access to health services Health system Conceptual literature Global debates Abbreviations AAAQAvailability, Acceptability, Affordability, Quality

LMICsLow - and Middle-Income Countries

MDGsMillennium Development Goals


UHCUniversal Health coverage

UNICEFUnited Nations Children’s Fund

USAIDUnited States Agency for International Development

WHAWorld Health Assembly

WHOWorld Health Organization

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Autor: Gilbert Abotisem Abiiro - Manuela De Allegri

Fuente: https://link.springer.com/

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