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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(c) World Bank

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 (27)

Registration to the Flagship course 2015


I would like to attend the WBI Flagship Course 2015. I am working for WHO DRC and I would like to improve my capacities in Health Financing Strategies in order to provide a useful support to the MOH in the Universal Health Coverage process which is on-going now in the country.
Best regards.


Registration for a Course on Health Systems Strengthening

Hi I would like to participate in the next flagship course on Health Systems Strengthening. I would be happy if I could receive much more information on the next HSS course.

Terence Muchengwa

Interest in joining the 2014 Global Flagship Course on Health Sy

I am very interested to join the "2014 Global Flagship Course on Health System Strengthening and Sustainable Financing - The Challenge of Universal Health Coverage" since I am currently making my Strategic management paper for the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and our corporation aims for universal coverage by 2016. However, it is most unfortunate on my part because it is already October 16th and the course starts on the 20th... Being a government employee, I would be needing a lot of clearances before I would be able to attend a prestigious course... with my present situation, I would not be able to beat the deadline... I pray I would be considered as one of your future participants. Since you say that there are no available sponsorships, may I avail of your online version of the course? Thank you very much.


I work for government in health insurance. Could I participate in this?

je vous remerci d'avance de tout ce que vousreserveraiz a ma dem

je sollicite cette formation pour mon renforcement de capacité
thanks you very much for me course


I am interested in participating in this course on health system strengthening. I shall be grateful if you offer me opportunity to be part of the course. I do not have a sponsorship at the moment.
Dr Tali G. Butkap
Department of Primary Health Care Services,
FCT Primary Health Care Development Board,
Auja Nigeria.

RE: Memories about the Flagship course

It is nice to learn that this course has been sustained this long.I was a course participant in 2001 and I found the course very relevant to me and fellow participants particularly the concept of allocative and economic efficiency.I am in retirement now but actively doing consultancies in the specialty of health management, Human Resources Management and Training, program evaluation and all issues related to Health systems strengthening.I find the course relevant.I wish I could attend.Through this email can I solicist for a sponsor? It will be important to update myself on new concepts from my attendance in 2001-now 13 years?????.Thanks.Dr Amos Odea Mwakilasa MD

Health System Strengthening

Hi I would like to participate in the next flagship course on Health Systems Strengthening. I would be happy if I received more information on the next course.

Amadeus Mukobe
Ministry of Health

want to participate from mongolia

I really want to attend this course abd want to learn reimboursement policy in deep. I am a lecturer i health policy and managment department of the national medical university, mongolia.
Are there any sponsorship possibility?
Many thanks

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.


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