GHS 209 – Comparative Health Systems: Financing and Delivering Health Services

The course examines the most important models for financing and delivering health care around the world. Students will be introduced to a guide for mapping a health care system, and will have an opportunity to diagram and understand the systems of countries at various income levels, and to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of these systems in achieving health and financial protection goals. Students will learn about, and have a chance to participate in, current debates about health systems, health financing, and Universal Health Coverage. Innovative models of health services delivery and financing will be presented, with invited speakers who are at the forefront of reforming health care.


At the end of the course students will be able to:

  1. Understand the concept of a health system, why it is important, and its basic functions and goals.
  2. Describe the importance of universal health coverage (UHC) and ways in which countries can achieve UHC.
  3. Describe ways of financing health systems including risk pooling and pre-payment mechanisms.
  4. Explain the basic dynamics of health insurance markets.
  5. Present a map of at least one country's health system, analyzing its stewardship, financing, and delivery mechanisms, and describing how well it achieves its health system goals.
  6. Compare the organization of various health systems and discuss implications for efficiency, quality, and access through small group presentations and discussions.

Course content

  • Introduction to health systems
  • Financing health care and the role of donor funding
  • Different models for achieving UHC through case studies of 7 low, middle and high income countries
  • Innovate ways to organize health services including developing human resources, and the use of public-private partnerships
  • Measuring health systems performance