Health financing course on universal health coverage another success

Robert Ramos

The fifth WHO Barcelona Course on Health Financing took place on 16–20 March 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. Built around the theme of universal health coverage, the course reviewed ways of improving health system performance through better health financing policies.

The course brought together 54 participants from 25 countries in the WHO European Region. It was designed and delivered by WHO/Europe's Barcelona Office for Health Systems Strengthening in collaboration with WHO headquarters' health financing policy team. The participants included government officials, managers and experts from health insurance funds, and representatives of public health institutions, universities and international donor organizations.

About the course

The interactive course is organized around key policy issues relating to revenue collection, pooling, purchasing and benefit design. It systematically outlines policy instruments and their impact on financial protection, equity, efficiency, quality of care and transparency.

It combines comprehensive thinking about health systems and financing with helpful tools for analysis, policy design and implementation. Participants encounter examples from countries throughout the course, engage in solving real-life cases and develop lasting professional relationships.

As a challenge, participants in this year's course had the chance to engineer real structural reform in one country. In addition, the course addressed a number of key issues with which Member States grapple in their efforts to move towards universal health coverage and to find ways to maintain it in times of economic hardship. 

Feedback from participants

"The most important thing about the course is the chance to share experiences and learn what countries do in terms of ensuring universal health coverage and protecting their people from financial crises. We can use these experiences in my country to improve the quality of health care and financial protection for patients," said Nicolae Jelamschi, Secretary of State for Health of the Republic of Moldova.

"Two aspects stood out: first, the quality of the lecturers and of the materials, with fresh information and useful country examples; second, the opportunity to network with all the people involved in the course," stated Severin Rakic, Head of the Public Health Institute of the Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"I like the fact that the course is interactive and we get plenty of opportunities to make comments and ask questions. This is not just about theory," added Tony Flynn, Assistant Principal at the Irish Department of Health.

"I greatly appreciate the heterogeneity of the participants. Moreover, the course material is excellent, as is the way it is presented. It helps me a lot to see my daily work from a different perspective … with deeper and extended knowledge," commented Martin Van Den Boom, Technical Officer at WHO/Europe.

"The country case was a real highlight. It was interesting to implement what you hear in the lectures in a real case. People really contributed and it was a lot of fun. I am very happy with my decision to attend," said Panagiotis Papadopoulos, Scientific Adviser at the Parliament of Greece.