Universal Health Coverage

We want to see a world where all older people are able to access the services and support they need to enjoy healthy ageing. 

What is Universal Health Coverage?

Universal health coverage (UHC) is defined as everyone, everywhere being able to access the health services they need, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship. 

Why does it matter? 

Alongside action to address factors that shape our health and wellbeing across the life-course and tackle the root causes of poverty and inequality, progress towards UHC is essential for promoting healthy ageing. UHC is also essential for delivering social and economic development, and building resilient and equitable societies that respond effectively in times of crisis – whether pandemics, climate crisis or other threats to global health security. 

The mere thought of sickness terrifies me because we do not have any social safety net, healthcare coverage, or protection. Who would care for our fate?

60-year-old woman, Lebanon

Achieving Universal Health Coverage fit for an ageing world

We must harness the opportunity UHC presents to reorient health and care systems and services to meet the needs of an ageing world and uphold the rights of all older people.

Access the report here

The challenge we face:

By 2030, 1.4 billion people will be aged 60 and over. Yet the majority of health and care systems worldwide remain unprepared for population ageing and associated rises in rates non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and disabilities. This is particularly true in low- and middle-income countries where the majority of older people live.  

Today, millions of older people in these countries are unable to access the services they need or are pushed into poverty doing so, while critical opportunities for promoting healthy ageing across the life-course are being missed. 

For older adults like me, disabled and with a high-risk of disease, it’s impossible to access health services.

60-year-old man, Colombia

What is HelpAge International doing?

HelpAge is part of the solution. We are working with partners from grassroots to global levels to promote UHC fit for an ageing world.  

We engage in broad based advocacy, conduct research, provide technical expertise, and support projects and programmes to ensure UHC meets the needs and upholds the rights of all older people – with a focus on reaching the furthest behind first. For example:

  • Our community-based approaches to healthy ageing engage older people in their health and wellbeing, and empower them to claim their right to services that meet their needs.
  • The Scaling up Non-Communicable Disease Interventions in Southeast Asia (SUNI-SEA Project 2019–2023) in Vietnam, Myanmar, and Indonesia delivered implementation research strengthening linkages between communities and primary health care systems to deliver improved NCD prevention and care.
  • The Better Health for Older People in Africa Project (BHOPA 2019–2022) focused on ensuring health systems in Kenya and Mozambique are more inclusive, responsive, and accountable to the needs and rights of older people and resulted in better policy and practice.
  • Our HelpAge UHC Community of Practice is building the capacity of our network members to promote UHC fit for an ageing world at all levels. In 2023, we supported partners in 15 countries to work with more than 1500 older people and key stakeholders to design impactful advocacy strategies for driving age-, gender-, and disability-responsive models of UHC.
  • At global level, we have set out a framework for Achieving UHC fit for an ageing world and engaged with partners working across age, gender, disability and NCDs to promote a stronger and more equitable political declaration on UHC at the High-Level Meeting in September 2023 and beyond.