For World Health Day 2018, WHO calls on world leaders to take concrete steps to move towards universal health coverage (UHC). This means ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access quality health services without facing financial hardship, as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals all countries agreed in 2015.

Where health systems fail to provide adequate financial protection, people are forced to choose between health care and other basic needs. This undermines access to services, lowers health status, deepens poverty and exacerbates inequalities.

In the WHO European Region, some countries do well in meeting UHC goals, but all of them can do better to secure financial protection, especially for poorer people. New analysis finds that households in the poorest fifth of the population are most likely to experience catastrophic health spending, often due to out-of-pocket payments for medicines. They are also most likely to forego or delay seeking care due to cost and other barriers to access.

Acting on new evidence can move European Region towards UHC

In the coming months, WHO/Europe will publish a series of individual reports on financial protection in 25 countries. The context-specific analysis in these reports is generating evidence that policy-makers can use to ensure out-of-pocket payments do not push people into poverty.

Findings from a regional analysis of financial protection will be shared at a high-level technical meeting in Tallinn, Estonia in June 2018 – Health Systems for Prosperity and Solidarity: leaving no one behind – hosted by the Government of Estonia to celebrate 10 years of the Tallinn Charter: Health Systems for Health and Wealth.