Photo: © UNICEF/UNI191937/Asselin

The primary goal of the Health Economics and Financing course, developed by UNICEF in joint partnership with the London School of Tropical Medicine, is to provide participants with the knowledge, skills, and basic economic arguments that are central to discussions about health policy options and choices in developing countries. More specifically, this course aims to share knowledge and policy experience on how health systems can improve equity in the financing and delivery of health care services by exposing the participants to key theoretical and empirical knowledge in the field of health financing and equity.

The course does not assume prior training in economics and is designed to highlight those aspects of health economics and health financing that will be most useful in an applied policy setting. The course provides a brief introduction to the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of health economics, but the emphasis is on practical application to health financing and equity, such as understanding the efficiency and equity outcomes of policy options such as user fees, cash transfers, performance-based financing, or social insurance; and understanding how health care resources are generated, pooled and used to purchase services and the related effects on health system performance in terms of efficiency and equity.

The specific objectives of the course are to enable participants to: 

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the main functions of health systems, trends in health policy reforms and key challenges facing health systems of low and middle income countries today;  
  • Apply their knowledge and skills to formulate and evaluate health policies and their implications in terms of efficiency and equity; and
  • Show written and verbal competence in consolidating and critically appraising debates relevant to issues of health policy, health financing, and equity;
  • Understand and demonstrate knowledge of UNICEF approaches to health system strengthening and financial bottlenecks assessment.

Learning outcomes 

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

  • Explain the basic concepts of health financing and health equity;
  • Formulate health financing and health equity arguments using a shared common language;
  • Use health finance concepts more effectively for the formulation and evaluation of health policies and plans;
  • Formulate policy arguments and strategies for improving the efficiency and equity of health systems.


This course is suitable for everyone willing to learn more about the topic of health economics and financing. 

Estimated Learning Time

10-15 hours

Course content

This course examines health systems from a financing and equity lens, looking at the latest evidence base on alternative policies and delivery strategies. It consists of the following modules:

  • Course roadmap: overview and objectives of the course
  • Principles for health care financing and delivery: equity and efficiency
  • Health systems: policies and challenges
  • Demand, supply and markets: application to the health sector
  • Failing markets: Government intervention in health
  • Measuring efficiency: economic evaluation in the health sector
  • Measuring equity: assessing the performance of health systems in terms of equity in health, equity in financing and equity in access
  • Health systems financing: creating fiscal space for health
  • Health systems financing: purchasing health servicesThe big picture: macroeconomic considerations


Vanya Kasakova
Programme Learning Specialist