2014 Global Flagship Course on Health System Strengthening and Sustainable Financing - The Challenge of Universal Health Coverage | World Bank Institute (WBI)

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The World Bank Institute (WBI) Global Flagship course on “The Challenge of Universal Health Coverage – Health System Strengthening and Sustainable Financing” is targeted to country teams of mid-level and high-level health and finance policy-makers, development partners, and other key stakeholders.

Many countries and agencies are committed to the goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This eight-day course will apply the Flagship analytic framework to enable structured and strategic thinking about how to move health systems towards UHC. The core faculty from Harvard and Oxford Universities, the World Health Organization and the World Bank will teach and facilitate the course.

During the course, policy-makers from ministries of Health and Finance and their development partners will engage in systematic analysis of the challenges, opportunities, and potential risks associated with using different policy levers to move health systems towards universal coverage. The course approach and purpose is not advocacy but analysis. During eight days of intensive interaction with peers and faculty, participants apply tools and concepts to assess where their health systems are relative to their coverage and financial protection goals, the determinants of progress and health system performance, and feasible policy options to progress towards UHC.

The language of instruction is English, and all course materials are in English. Participants are expected to be able to read, understand and speak English fluently enough to participate fully in course discussions and group work. No translation facilities are available. 
Dear Flagship Alumni and Friends,

We are deeply saddened by the sudden death of Professor Marc Roberts, on July 26, 2014, at his home in Cape Cod. Marc was a core member of the group that together developed the Flagship course, and taught it for many years to many hundreds of people from countries around the world. He had a brilliant gift for explaining even complex ideas in a clear and accessible way, illustrated with memorable examples, stories and humor, drawn from his extensive experience and reading. His great intellect and warmth, the thoughtful and generous way he engaged with us all and shared what he knew, and his eagerness to learn from others, will be sorely missed.    


The course premise is that Universal Health Coverage is not an end in itself, but a means—a means to better health, financial protection, and user satisfaction. Moreover, there are different ways to achieve Universal Health Coverage. A country’s starting point – defined by its existing patterns of financing, service delivery, and financial protection mechanisms, as well as each country’s economic, political, and social situation, determines which options are feasible.

Participants will consider the extent to which different population groups have access to the health services they need, and their level of financial protection when using those services. The course will emphasize that what really matters is not coverage “in principle” or “on paper,” but the actual, effective availability of health services, taking into account the costs to users and payers, and service quality/effectiveness. Affordability is always a concern and a constraint. New policies and programs aimed at achieving universal health coverage may generate future entitlements and expectations that can easily overwhelm systems. This makes it essential to ensure that new entitlements are matched by sustainable financing and by expansions of services – whether provided by the private, non-profit, or public sectors. Prevention and health promotion are vital – the healthier the population, the more feasible and affordable is UHC.

The Flagship framework takes participants beyond the design of health systems and their financing to also consider important ethical and political issues, and the different interests of the main groups and stakeholders affected by health policies (e.g., health care providers, patient groups, international pharmaceutical companies, private sector entrepreneurs, etc.). Most importantly, the Flagship approach focuses attention on implementation issues, such as organization and management, regulation, the design of payment systems, incentives and mechanisms for behavioral change, and the capabilities that are needed for successful implementation of different policy options.

The course methodology uses case studies specifically related to Universal Health Coverage. Group work sessions give participants the opportunity to apply the course concepts and content to the specific situation in their own countries, and to interact with and draw on the experiences of other participants/countries. Participants will gain a clearer sense of the options, opportunities, constraints, and priorities in considering the next major steps towards UHC in their country.

Topics/themes that will be discussed/analyzed during the course include:

  • What Universal Health Coverage involves and its relationship with ultimate outcomes
  • Different strategies for promoting Universal Coverage
  • The Flagship framework – enhanced to include the health system “building blocks”
  • Ethics and the political economy of Universal Coverage
  • Intermediate outcomes: quality, efficiency and access
  • Financing options for Universal Coverage
  • Paying and reimbursing providers
  • Expanding coverage and the design of benefit packages
  • Setting priorities and controlling expenses
  • The importance of health promotion and prevention in making UHC feasible
  • Improving performance in the public sector to expand coverage
  • Universal Coverage and the private sector: contracting and regulation
  • Leadership for implementing change

Places will be offered to 70 applicants. Applications will close on September 6th 2014, however, review of applications and offers of places begin in August so early application is advised. Preference will be given to teams of health and health-finance policy-makers and key stakeholder partners from low-and middle-income countries– please state in your application if you are part of a country team.

The course will take place in the World Bank, 1818 H Street, Washington DC, USA. A preferential rate of approximately US$150/night equivalent has been negotiated with a nearby hotel; details will be provided to applicants to whom places are offered.

Dates: Participants need to arrive no later than Sunday, 19th October, and should not leave before 5pm on Tuesday 28th October, 2014.

US Visa: Applicants are advised to apply early for a US visa – there can be long waiting times even for an appointment to submit an application.

Target Audience: Country teams of mid-level and high-level health and finance policy-makers, development partners and other key stakeholders.

Course Format: Facilitated
Course Theme: Health
Sub-Theme: Universal Health Coverage
Language: English
 Time Commitment: Eight-day course

Cost: USD 2,500 per participant,
which also includes course materials, lunch and coffee breaks during the course, and a dinner reception. Participants or their sponsors are also responsible for the cost of travel to Washington DC, airport transfers, accommodation, some meals, and incidentals.

For content questions, please contact Joy de Beyer. For administration/logistics, contact Yolanda Gutierrez de Diaz.

Comments (18)

Registration for course on HSS

Hello Joy,
I have done two of the WBI institute online courses and found them to be excellent. I would like to attend this course next month and wondering whether there is still room/time to apply and get admitted. I have sponsership.



Are you still accepting applications for those interested in attending this course.Regards,Rael.

Health System and Sustainable Financing

i interest health and i have Bachelor degree in Nutrition and i want to participate the Health System course for Master degree in Nutrition, i am Somali student in Mogadishu - Somalia can i meet the course by attending class even online course?


Best regards,

Mohamed Abdinur
email: mabdinur330@gmail.com
skype: td.boy1
cell phone: +252615769624

Reply to questions about sponsorship

Dear Frederick - and others asking about sponsorship

As noted in one of my earlier posts, the World Bank is not able to sponsor anyone. Other international agencies sometimes sponsor people - but usually only senior government policy-makers, with whom they are working. I dont know of any sponsorship opportunities for individuals.
However, we are developing an on-line course that will be freely available in early 2015. We will announce it on the website when its available.


Is it possible to tell us where we may find some sponsors for this trainings, so that we can apply for sponsorship?.

Thanks a lot.

The Challenge of Universal Health Coverage

It would be a very useful course for me because I have written an assignment/paper on Universal Health Coverage in Afghanistan during my masters degree, and I am working as a program manager in the Ministry of public Health where health financing for sustainability of programs is an issue.

Reply to question asking about sponsorship

Dear Dr Onuora,
I regret that the World Bank is unable to offer sponsorship to participate in the course. We are developing an on-line version that in future, anyone with an internet connection will be able to take, without additional cost.

Will the Flagship Course be offered in/near India in future?

Dear Sanjaya,
I am sorry, but we do not have plans to offer the course in India, but we are developing an on-line version that will be free for anyone with an internet connection to take.

2014 Global Flagship Course on Health System Strengthening and S

I authored the policy document for BJP ( Election Manifesto under the Chairmanship of Dr.Murli Manohar Joshi ) which includes all the polices of the new government

I would appreciate if World Bank can sponsor me for this course



Participation in theFlagship course on universal health coverage

I want to participate, know THE COST IMPLICATION and sponsorships possibilities.
I'll be very happy to read your answer soon.

M&E Safe motherhood
National program of reproductive health
DR Congo
00 243 81 170 55 27

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