Financing and Providing Basic Healthcare to Two Billion People in Low-and Lower-Income Countries for UHC

Leading up to the 2021 International Health Economics Association (iHEA) Congress, the Harvard China Health Partnership hosted “Financing and Providing Basic Healthcare to Two Billion People in Low-and Lower-Income Countries For UHC” as a pre-Congress session on July 9, 2021 from 8-10am EDT.

Event Background

In recent years, most nations have embraced the noble goal of universal health coverage (UHC), but unfortunately, the world has not yet identified a way around the key barrier to making it a reality in low- and lower-income countries.  Absent effective means of mobilizing the financial resources to fund basic healthcare for these countries’ nearly two billion low-income residents, these people will continue to suffer inadequate access to basic healthcare and poor health.  The governments of low- and lower-income countries cannot collect sufficient tax revenue to adequately fund healthcare, nor are most of them able to organize and deliver effective care at communities close to where people live.  As for other sources of funds for health, donors prioritize funding for disease-specific programs, such as for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and programs supporting maternal and child health, but little funding is available for basic healthcare.  As a result, care for everyday common diseases is neglected. Social health insurance programs can effectively mobilize funds but are limited in reach to workers employed in the formal sector, and only affluent households can afford private insurance.

This session brought together leading experts to share, discuss and debate their responses to key questions: What are potential solutions/strategies for funding AND providing basic healthcare for this neglected two billion people? What have we learned so far from different countries’ experience?

The session was moderated by Dr. Winnie Yip and included four presentations followed by a panelist discussion.


  1. Edwine Barasa, Director, Nairobi Programme, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
  2. William Hsiao, K.T. Li Professor of Economics, Emeritus, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  3. Joe Kutzin, Coordinator, Health Financing Policy, World Health Organization
  4. Ajay Tandon, Lead Economist, The World Bank Group


  • A recording of the event is available here.
  • Information on our other pre-Congress session “Ageing in China” is available here.
  • Information about HCHP-related research presentations at the 2021 iHEA Congress is available here.