Increasing Access and Quality

The quality of health care has been defined as "the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge." Access to quality care is important to eliminate health disparities and increase the quality and years of healthy life for all.

Access to quality health care and disease control tools (e.g., drugs, vaccines, diagnostics) plays a crucial role in determining the health of a population. The United Nations and its various technical agencies and programs play a critical role in advancing the agenda to improve access to health care in order to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

Unfortunately, not all populations have equal access to lifesaving technologies. And many questions remain that confound achieving equal access to high-quality health care. For example:

  • What does access to health care mean?
  • What is the best way to enhance access to health care?
  • How should access to health care be measured?

Sources: Institute of Medicine (IOM). 2001. Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. Washington, DC: IOM.;;

United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). 2006. Equitable Access to Health Care and Infectious Disease Control: Concepts, Measurement, and Interventions. Geneva: UNRISD.