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publication July 5, 2018

Delivering Quality Health Services: A Global Imperative for Universal Health Coverage


As nations commit to achieving universal health coverage by 2030, there is a growing acknowledgement that access to services is not enough. Improvement in health care delivery requires a deliberate focus on the quality of health services, which involves providing effective, safe, people-centered care that is timely, equitable, integrated and efficient.

This first-ever joint global report from World Health Organization (WHO), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the World Bank Group makes clear that poor quality health services are holding back progress on improving health in countries at all income levels.

Key findings in the report include:

•  Health care workers in seven low- and middle-income African countries were only able to make accurate diagnoses one-third to three-quarters of the time, and clinical guidelines for common conditions were followed less than 45 percent of the time on average.

•  Research in eight high-mortality countries in the Caribbean and Africa found that effective, quality maternal and child health services are far less prevalent than suggested by just looking at access to services. For example, just 28 percent of antenatal care, 26 percent of family planning services and 21 percent of sick-child care across these countries qualified as ‘effective.’

•  Around 15 percent of hospital expenditure in high-income countries is due to mistakes in care or patients being infected while in hospitals.

The three organizations outline the steps governments, health services and their workers, together with citizens and patients, urgently need to take to improve health care quality.

  • Governments should lead the way with strong national health care quality policies and strategies.
  • Health systems should focus on competent care and user experience to ensure confidence in the system.
  • Citizens should be empowered and informed to actively engage in health care decisions and in designing new models of care to meet the needs of their local communities.
  • Health care workers should see patients as partners and commit themselves to providing and using data to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of health care.

Download Full Report: English | Russian