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 (7)

Health System Strengthening and Sustainable Financing

The course description sounds useful and relevant to India. Do you have any plan to organize it in India in near future? Please inform about any such plans.



2014 Global Flagship Course on Health System Strengthening and S

I wish toattend/be sponsored for the above courese. living and working in the developng world, it maybe challenging for me.


Hi Paul, and Shamwill,
The course is intended for policy-makers and practitioners who are involved in decisions on financing, organising, regulating and delivering health care. Most people come as a member of a country group, usually led by the Ministry of Health.

THe World Bank is NOT able to offer sponsorship (sorry). Applicants need to arrange their own sponsorship - usually through their employer, or in the case of government officials - through development partners.

However, we do offer on-line courses that are free. Please check this website for up-coming courses. This course is not yet available on-line, but we are working on an on-line version.

Answers to question

Hi Frank,

The cost is 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.

Fkagship course on universal health coverage

I would like to participate in this flagship course. what are the admission reqirements.

Support to participate in the course

The course is a must attend. I would be very grateful if i could get sponsorship to attend the training. Many thanks for organizing such a wonderful and timely programme.

Want to participate


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