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Researchers to investigate how to provide universal healthcare coverage to people living in absolute poverty

Posted on 21 September 2022

Researchers in York and Delhi are launching a major project to explore how to bring high quality healthcare to people around the world left behind by poverty and marginalisation.

The project, which has received £7m from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), with additional funding from the University of York, will focus on four middle income countries with high levels of inequality - India, South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia.  

The research will investigate how Universal Health Coverage (UHC) – where high quality, affordable and accessible care is provided to all people – can be financed and introduced in these countries, which are collectively home to 45% of people living in absolute poverty (which means they live on less than $1.90 per day). 


Co-lead author of the study, Professor Marc Suhrcke from the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York, said: “Our study will focus on people in emerging economies who are currently deprived of access to healthcare for various reasons. This includes groups such as the working poor, informal workers, illegal immigrants and others living under the poverty line. 

“Working closely with international partners, we are aiming to contribute to the global debate around UHC and produce high quality research to inform policymakers, national governments, NGOs and international bodies. This research as well as knowledge and skills development on the best economic interventions and strategies – large or small – will help bring UHC closer to people suffering from a lack of access to healthcare.”


UHC is one of the UN’s sustainable development goals, which countries around the world have committed to in order to ensure that all people can share in the benefits of economic development. 

There is a mounting body of evidence that UHC can deliver significant benefits both for individuals and for economies, by improving population health and contributing to economic growth.


Co-lead author of the study, Professor Indrani Gupta from the Institute of Economic Growth in New Delhi, said: “Introducing UHC is possible and beneficial in all countries and our study will work to bring vital evidence and solutions to the individuals and organisations crucial to its implementation.

“We are aiming to provide vision and better understanding of what is needed to make UHC happen. Often it’s a case of needing to go back to the drawing board and thinking about a country’s health system as a whole rather than making fixes in siloed areas of a system.”

Professor Mattias Ruth, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of York added: “This project is a fantastic example of how York researchers are working closely with international partners to improve the world around us. York research is championing change and making a significant contribution to shaping a sustainable world, built on inclusivity and humanity.”


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About this research

The NIHR Unit on health financing for UHC in challenging times: leaving no-one behind launches on 1 September 2022 and will last for five years. 


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