The world health report 2013: research vital to universal health coverage

WHO calls on all countries to invest in and produce research to develop universal health coverage tailored to their country needs. “The world health report 2013: research for universal health coverage” is launched today.

The report includes case studies on specific areas of health research that have contributed to our understanding of what needs to be addressed to achieve and maintain universal health coverage.

Changes in public health expenditure due to ageing

One case study highlighted in the report reviews research in five European countries to forecast changes in public health expenditure due to ageing populations. The main finding of this research reveals that contrary to the common assumption, projected increases in health expenditure associated with ageing are modest. Other factors, notably technological developments, have a greater effect on total heath care costs. Further, an important predictor of high health care expenditure is not age itself but proximity to death, with the cost of health care becoming substantial in the last year of life.

“The world health report 2013”: key messages on research

  • Universal health coverage, with full access to high-quality services for health promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, palliation and financial risk protection, cannot be achieved without evidence from research. Research has the power to address a wide range of questions about how we can reach universal coverage, providing answers to improve human health, well-being and development.
  • All nations should be producers of research as well as consumers. The creativity and skills of researchers should be used to strengthen investigations not only in academic centres but also in public health programmes, close to the supply of and demand for health services.
  • Research for universal health coverage requires national and international backing. To make the best use of limited resources, systems are needed to develop national research agendas, to raise funds, to strengthen research capacity, and to make appropriate and effective use of research findings.

About universal health coverage

Working towards universal health coverage – enabling everyone to have full access to high-quality health services without risking financial ruin – is a powerful mechanism for achieving better health and well-being, and for promoting human development.
In 2005, all WHO Member States made the commitment to achieve universal health coverage, and in 2010, “The world health report 2010. Health systems financing: the path to universal coverage” was published.
In the WHO European Region, universal health coverage and Health 2020 are synergistic, sharing common aims built around the principles of equity and people-centred health systems.