Health financing course on universal health coverage delivers


The fourth Barcelona Course on Health Financing took place on 10–14 March 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. Built on the theme of universal health coverage, the Course reviewed ways to improve health systems’ performance through better policy on health financing.

Positive feedback

“This course sets a new standard for delivering a training programme. Room for improvement? I’d change as little as possible,” said Jaakko Yrjö-Koskinen, Ministerial Counsellor, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Finland.

“The most useful part is now having a framework to think about health systems,” commented Dirk Göpffarth, Head of Risk Adjustment Unit, German Federal Social Insurance Agency.

“I found the country cases most useful and they helped us to not only think about models, but the context and the right moment to introduce reforms,” added Svetlana Cotelea, Deputy Minister of Health, Republic of Moldova.

The Course brought together 54 participants from 27 countries in the WHO European Region, and 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 of health insurance funds, and representatives of public health institutions, academe and international donor organizations.

About the Course

The interactive Course combines comprehensive thinking about health systems and financing with helpful tools for analysis and 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, the participants in the fourth Course had the chance to engineer real structural reform in one country. In addition, the Course addressed a number of key issues in health financing policy 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 and financial hardship. It was organized around key policy issues relating to revenue collection, pooling, purchasing and benefit design, and systematically outlined policy instruments and their impact on financial protection, equity, efficiency, the quality of care and transparency.

“The knowledge gained on this course – including how to manage a demanding political context and prepare long-term plans – will be extremely valuable in Croatia. We are grateful for the excellent trainers and very interesting course content, as well as the opportunity to make very important networking connections,” said Tatjana Prenđa Trupec, Deputy Director of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund.

Universal health coverage and efficiency

A highlight of the Course was the keynote session on the link between universal health coverage and efficiency. Peter Smith, Professor of Health Policy, Imperial College London, United Kingdom, gave a conceptual overview of the role of efficiency gains in moving towards universal health coverage and outlined the main areas where such gains can typically be found in health systems. Miklós Szócska, Minister of State for Health, Hungary, and Mircea Buga, Director-General of the Health Insurance Fund, Republic of Moldova, shared examples of efficiency gains in their countries.

“This is an amazing course: extremely well rounded yet compact, built on a strong scientific and theoretical base brought to life via a panorama of in-depth, reform-specific country cases and very dynamic, participant-driven presentations. As a policy-maker and policy researcher, I took away a lot,” said Anna-Marie Vilamovska, Secretary for Science and Healthcare of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria.