Health accounts


    The system of health accounts is an international accounting framework for systematically tracking health spending. Time trends of overall health spending and its components guide future policies and investments to make health systems more responsive to people’s needs. They are essential for improving the performance of health systems while enhancing transparency and accountability. Health expenditure data also provide insights for assessing the adequacy of health resources, evaluating the efficiency, effectiveness, and equity of resource allocations, benchmarking against peers, and monitoring the progress towards the key goals of universal health coverage and health security. Accordingly, the demand for timely, accurate, and comprehensive data on health expenditures has been increasing at both the country and global levels.

    “A System of Health Accounts 2011” (SHA 2011) establishes an integrated and comprehensive methodology for tracking health expenditure through a set of uniform accounts comparable across countries. The framework, which focuses on final consumption, tracks resource flows through the health system: from its sources (funding sources, financial arrangements), patterns of provision (providers and factors of provision), and through to its use (health care functions, diseases/programs). 

    WHO Response

    WHO works closely with partners to establish and institutionalize harmonized, integrated mechanisms for the routine and timely collection and publication of health expenditure data, as well as using health accounts information in policymaking. At a technical level. WHO has developed methodologies, practical guidance, and IT tools, and provides direct technical support. At an institutional level, it involves efforts to help countries build their capacity to undertake such functions.

    Data collection on countries’ health expenditure, based on SHA 2011, is the foundation of the Global Health Expenditure Database (GHED) ( GHED is a global public good: being an open-access platform that hosts internationally comparable data on annual health spending for more than 190 countries from 2000 onwards, as well as data visualization for easy comparisons across countries and over time. GHED also contains key methodology and guidance documents for health expenditure tracking. WHO works with the countries to update the GHED annually. To accompany the annual data release, WHO also publishes an annual global health expenditure report that provides an overview of the trends in global health expenditure, the thematic profile of spending, as well as special topics.

    Latest publications

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    Understanding the global measure of primary health care expenditure

    The aim of this document to broaden the understanding of the global Primary Health Care Expenditure (PHCE) measure to nontechnical audiences. It is organized...

    Health accounts production tool (HAPT)

    The related text for the publications page on the WHO website will be as follows: The Health Accounts Production Tool (HAPT): User guide provides a global...

    Tracking health expenditure on COVID-19 within the system of health accounts framework

    This document is intended for countries’ health accounts teams and provides a methodological technical note for tracking and classifying coronavirus...

    Global spending on health: rising to the pandemic’s challenges

    The results of the report clearly show that in 2020, a year dominated by the emergence of COVID-19 and its associated health and economic crises, governments...

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