Hospital beds


Engaging in the Political Economy of Universal Health Coverage

Hosted by the Global Health Initiative

Online public event


Dr Ashley Fox

Associate Professor, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany

Professor Vikram Patel

Professor of Global Health, Harvard Medical School

Robert Yates

Director, Global Health Programmes, Chatham House


Dr Justin Parkhurst

Associate Professor, Department of Health Policy, LSE

As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, universal health coverage (UHC) is a goal that the world can’t afford to miss.

The lessons that countries are currently learning from the pandemic all underscore that investing in health for all is not optional.Achieving universal health coverage (UHC) requires a comprehensive range of health systems reforms, perhaps the most important step is switching from a health financing system dominated by private voluntary financing to one dominated by compulsory public financing. A free market in health services will not achieve this outcome and instead the power of the state is needed to compel healthy-wealthy people to subsidise services for the sick and the poor. As powerful interest groups often tend to oppose UHC financing transitions, these processes are inherently political.

This webinar will review how the COVID pandemic has affected global UHC transitions and present a country case study comparison of India and the United States of America (USA) to highlight the importance of genuine political commitment from the head of state to overcome political barriers and bring UHC to different settings. Panellists will discuss the importance of health agencies needing to improve their performance in engaging in issues relating to the political economy of UHC.

About the Speakers: 

Ashley M. Fox is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at University at Albany, SUNY. She earned her BA and MA in Political Science from the University of Connecticut and a PhD in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard between 2009-2010 and at Yale University in the Division of Health Policy and Administration between 2010-2011. Her research focuses on the politics of health policy and the effects of policies on health outcomes, including not only policies targeted at health, but also broader social policies that have indirect effects on health.

Vikram Patel is the Pershing Square Professor of Global Health in the Blavatnik Institute's Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is an adjunct professor at the Public Health Foundation of India, honorary professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and is a co-founder of Sangath, an Indian NGO which won the MacArthur Foundation’s International Prize for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2008 and the WHO Public Health Champion of India award in 2016. He is a co-chair of the Lancet Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System. 

Robert Yates is an internationally recognized expert on universal health coverage (UHC) and progressive health financing. At Chatham House he was previously project director of the UHC Policy Forum before leading the Global Health programme and Centre for Universal Health. His principal area of expertise is in the political economy of UHC, with a focus on advising political leaders and government ministries on how to plan, finance and implement national UHC reforms. He has previously worked as a senior health economist with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Health Organization (WHO), advising numerous governments in Asia and Africa on health financing policy and health system reforms.


About the Chair: 

Justin Parkhurst is an Associate Professor of Global Health Policy in the LSE Department of Health Policy. He is co-director of the MSc in Health Policy, Planning, and Financing programme, and the current serving Chair of the LSE Global Health Initiative. Dr Parkhurst’s research interests lie in global health politics and policy, as well as the political nature of evidence use to inform policy decisions. He recently led a 5-year programme of work on Getting Research Into Policy in Health (the GRIP-Health programme) funded by the European Research Council – which has produced a number of outputs and publications (most open access) on the politics and governance of evidence. He is currently leading (jointly with Dr Clare Wenham) a Wellcome Trust supported project on Building the Case for Health Sciences Research in Africa (2018-2020). He was also a co-investigator on the recently completed LINK-Data for Decision Making project - – a DFID-supported programme of work that strengthens the use of data for malaria decision-making in Africa.

From time to time there are changes to event details so we strongly recommend checking back on this listing on the day of the event if you plan to attend. Whilst we are hosting this listing, LSE Events does not take responsibility for the running and administration of this event. While we take responsible measures to ensure accurate information is given here this event is ultimately the responsibility of the organisation presenting the event. 


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