The World Health Organisation (WHO) has developed a data portal that can be used to track the progress towards universal health coverage (UHC) around the world.

The portal features the latest data on access to health services in each of the WHO 194 Member States, such as information about equity of access and how each country needs to improve access to services and healthcare information.

All UN Member States have agreed to aim to achieve UHC by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).To achieve UHC, countries need to build health systems that can provide effective and affordable healthcare services to communities.

The United Nations working group responsible for deciding how to monitor progress towards the SDGs agreed on two measures for UHC: the proportion of a population with access to 16 essential health services; and the proportion of a population that spends more than 25% of household income on health.

WHO’s new UHC Data Portal offers data on both indicators, offering a snapshot of the status of UHC globally and by country.

For example, the portal shows that of the estimated 10.4 million new cases of TB in 2015, 6.1 million were detected and officially notified, leaving a gap of 4.3 million. The portal also shows that about 44% of WHO’s Member States report having less than one physician per 1,000 population. The African Region suffers almost 25% of the global burden of disease but has only 3% of the world’s health workers.

“Any country seeking to achieve UHC must be able to measure it,” said WHO’s Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan.

“Data on its own won’t prevent disease or save lives, but it shows where governments need to act to strengthen their health systems and protect people from the potentially devastating effects of health care costs,” continued Dr Chan.

“Expanding access to services will involve increasing spending for most countries,” said WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation, Dr Marie-Paule Kieny.

“But as important as what is spent is how it’s spent. All countries can make progress towards UHC, even at low spending levels,” concluded Dr Kieny.

In 2017 the WHO plans to add data on the impact that paying for health services has on household finances.

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