Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 07/2012

The New Global Health Agenda: Universal Health Coverage

Oren Ahoobim, Dan Altman, Laurie Garrett, Vicky Hausman, Yanzhong Huang

April 2012

Council on Foreign Relations


It might seem hard to believe, but just as the world is recovering from the most serious financial shock since World War II, governments around the world are engaging in serious discussions about how to expand health coverage. This new wave of universal health coverage has touched nearly one hundred countries, all studying how to institute government-funded programs of health care. This concept is taking off in populous countries and those that have traditionally been UHC “blind spots,” such as Indonesia, China, India, and South Africa. Combined, these four countries account for 40 percent of the world’s population. Unlike the United States, emerging economies are not buying the argument that health care is largely the responsibility of individuals and businesses, with a public provision relegated to the elderly, veterans, and the indigent.