BRICS countries and the global movement for universal health coverage

Health Policy Plan. 2016 Jul;31(6):717-28. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czv122. Epub 2015 Dec 24.


This article explores BRICS' engagement in the global movement for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the implications for global health governance. It is based on primary data collected from 43 key informant interviews, complemented by a review of BRICS' global commitments supporting UHC. Interviews were conducted using a semi-structured questionnaire that included both closed- and open-ended questions. Question development was informed by insights from the literature on UHC, Cox's framework for action, and Kingdon's multiple-stream theory of policy formation. The closed questions were analysed with simple descriptive statistics and the open-ended questions using grounded theory approach. The analysis demonstrates that most BRICS countries implicitly supported the global movement for UHC, and that they share an active engagement in promoting UHC. However, only Brazil, China and to some extent South Africa, were recognized as proactively pushing UHC in the global agenda. In addition, despite some concerted actions, BRICS countries seem to act more as individual countries rather that as an allied group. These findings suggest that BRICS are unlikely to be a unified political block that will transform global health governance. Yet the documented involvement of BRICS in the global movement supporting UHC, and their focus on domestic challenges, shows that BRICS individually are increasingly influential players in global health. So if BRICS countries should probably not be portrayed as the centre of future political community that will transform global health governance, their individual involvement in global health, and their documented concerted actions, may give greater voice to low- and middle-income countries supporting the emergence of multiple centres of powers in global health.

Keywords: BRICS; Universal health coverage; global health governance.

MeSH terms

  • Brazil
  • China
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Policy Making*
  • South Africa
  • Universal Health Insurance / organization & administration*