Health financing is one of the six building blocks of the WHO health systems framework, i.e., service delivery; health workforce; information system; medical products & technologies; financing; and leadership & governance.  The Framework provides clear functions and poses major challenges of each building block, in particular healthcare financing faced by the developing countries.  It is clear that health system strengthening requires integrated responses of all six building blocks.

It is well recognized that functional health system requires equitable, efficient and sustainable health financing which ensures access and utilization of essential health services without financial barrier and people are protected from financial catastrophe or impoverishment due to illnesses.  This is the goal of health financing system aiming at universal health coverage (UHC).

The World Health Assembly resolution, WHA 58.33 in 2005 on “sustainable health financing, universal coverage and social health insurance” urges member states to ensure that the health financing systems include prepayment method with a view of risk sharing and solidarity.  WHO and partners convened the first global symposium on health system research with the theme of “science to accelerate universal health coverage” in Montreux in November 2010.  About 1,200 registered participants who are researchers, policy-makers, funders, academia and other stakeholders representing diverse constituencies gathered to share evidences and experiences and identify knowledge gaps and need of research in low and middle income countries to foster the momentum of universal coverage movement.  The latest World Health Report in 2010 on “health system financing: the path to universal coverage” was launched in Berlin, Germany in 22-23 November 2010 and subsequently in Beijing, China on 29 November 2010.  The report reaffirms all countries can improve the health financing system and strongly persuades faster moving towards universal health coverage goals.