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Measuring progress towards universal health coverage: national and subnational analysis in Ethiopia
  1. Getachew Teshome Eregata1,2,
  2. Alemayehu Hailu1,2,
  3. Solomon Tessema Memirie1,3,
  4. Ole Frithjof Norheim1,4
  1. 1Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  2. 2Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  3. 3Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, College of Health Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  4. 4Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard University T H Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Getachew Teshome Eregata; eregatagetachewteshome{at}


Introduction Aiming for universal health coverage (UHC) as a country-level goal requires that progress is measured and tracked over time. However, few national and subnational studies monitor UHC in low-income countries and there is none for Ethiopia. This study aimed to estimate the 2015 national and subnational UHC service coverage status for Ethiopia.

Methods The UHC service coverage index was constructed from the geometric means of component indicators: first, within each of four major categories and then across all components to obtain the final summary index. Also, we estimated the subnational level UHC service coverage. We used a variety of surveys data and routinely collected administrative data.

Results Nationally, the overall Ethiopian UHC service coverage for the year 2015 was 34.3%, ranging from 52.2% in the Addis Ababa city administration to 10% in the Afar region. The coverage for non-communicable diseases, reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health and infectious diseases were 35%, 37.5% and 52.8%, respectively. The national UHC service capacity and access coverage was only 20% with large variations across regions, ranging from 3.7% in the Somali region to 41.1% in the Harari region.

Conclusion The 2015 overall UHC service coverage for Ethiopia was low compared with most of the other countries in the region. Also, there was a substantial variation among regions. Therefore, Ethiopia should rapidly scale up promotive, preventive and curative health services through increasing investment in primary healthcare if Ethiopia aims to reach the UHC service coverage goals. Also, policymakers at the regional and federal levels should take corrective measures to narrow the gap across regions, such as redistribution of the health workforce, increase resources allocated to health and provide focused technical and financial support to low-performing regions.

  • health policies and all other topics
  • health economics
  • health services research
  • health systems evaluation
  • health systems

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Twitter @GetachewTesho14

  • Contributors GTE, AH and OFN undertook the data analysis and developed the first draft of the methodology section. The first draft manuscript was prepared by GTE. All authors substantially participated in the conception of the research idea, design of data collection tools and interpretation of the result. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded this study through the Disease Control Priority—Ethiopia project (DCP-E) (OPP1162384).

  • Competing interests The first (GTE) and second (AH) authors are employees of the Ministry of Health.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the IRB of the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (Ref: EPHI/6.13/607).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request.

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