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Global and national healthcare policies

The health sector is an important part of most economies of the world.

The table below shows the percentage of GDP spent on healthcare between 2013 and 2017 in developed countries around the world (Office for National Statistics 2019):

Country 2013 2017
United States 16.3 17.1
France 11.4 11.3
Germany 10.9 11.2
Japan 10.8 10.9
Canada 10.3 10.7
United Kingdom 9.8 9.6
Italy 9.0 8.8

At some point or another, most people come into contact with the healthcare system and this may have a significant impact on their lives. Because healthcare decisions can alter a person’s life significantly, healthcare is often accorded a priority status among other social issues. For example, a 2017 King’s Fund survey in the UK showed that 66% of respondents would pay more taxes to support the growing costs of the NHS (Wellings 2020).

Health policies transverse all sectors, as they are affected by policies that do not directly relate to healthcare. Policies that relate to environmental degradation and pollution, insecurity and political instability, economic regulation and deregulation, water supply, and sanitation all significantly impact on the health status of the population.

According to Walt (1994), an analysis of health policy based on the processes and powers involved provides a better understanding of how health policies are formed. This involves examining the role of the state, both nationally and globally, the actors and mechanisms involved, and the influence of external forces.

Different levels of healthcare policymaking

An analysis of healthcare policies can be examined at different levels:

  • Internationally
  • Nationally
  • Locally

National health policies are significantly influenced by foreign influences via international guidelines. Multinational agencies such as the World Bank and other donor agencies play a significant role in shaping national policies globally – for instance, the provision of health services in rural and remote areas against the interest of national policymakers.

At a local level, key local stakeholders, such as governmental health providers and community groups and charities, are engaged in a network to provide healthcare to the local population. It is noted that these stakeholders operate in a complex network, within which careful management is required to maintain the relationships of the stakeholders (Hoeijmakers et al. 2007).

Your task

Discuss and explain how the policies you located in the previous step are connected to global health policy.

Share your thoughts in the comments area.


Hoeijmakers, M., De Leeuw, E., Kenis, P., and De Vries, N. (2007). Local health policy development processes in the Netherlands: an expanded toolbox for health promotion. Health Promotion International, 22(2). https://locate.coventry.ac.uk/permalink/f/1ea4mrv/TN_proquest34224312

Office for National Statistics. (2019). How Does UK Healthcare Spending Compare With Other Countries?. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthcaresystem/articles/howdoesukhealthcarespendingcomparewithothercountries/2019-08-29

Walt, G. (1994). Health Policy. Zed Books

Wellings, D. (2020). _What Does the Public Think About the NHS?. https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/what-does-public-think-about-nhs

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Policy Formulation and Analysis in Healthcare

Coventry University