National investment and governance for health

How countries invest in health matters immensely for children.

A four-year-old boy rests his head on his hands at a table in his house, smiling.

How countries allocate resources to achieve health goals makes a difference for children. To ensure children and adolescents have equitable access to health care and services, Governments must analyze local needs, raise sustainable funds and budget efficiently.

But investing in health at the national level requires support. Especially for low- and middle-income countries, assistance in governance, financing and service delivery helps ensure that health programmes reach those most in need.

UNICEF’s response

UNICEF strengthens health systems by supporting countries in health financing and related areas. We work with Governments and partners to identify development priorities, improve the efficiency and equity of health spending, and ensure that primary health care and critical public goods are adequately funded.

We also help Governments guide and oversee decentralized levels of authority, and develop and implement national policies.

UNICEF leverages investments from domestic, bilateral and multilateral sources. We work with international financial institutions and multilateral financing mechanisms – including the World Bank, Gavi, the Global Financing Facility and the Global Fund – to help countries match health funding with national priorities.

A woman in red holds her son over her shoulder in a health centre.
Nuna Hassan, 20 years old, holds her son at an integrated health and nutrition centre in Moqor Manyow camp for internally displaced people, Baidoa, Somalia, in 2019.

To guide national investments, UNICEF and partners leverage the Equitable Impact Sensitive Tool (EQUIST), which helps identify cost-effective interventions and develop plans for maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health programmes.

EQUIST also supports the production of budget briefs, investment cases and other tools to strengthen Government budgeting and transparency practices. In Angola, for example, these briefs contributed to a nearly $400 million increase in the approved budget for health and education in 2018, benefiting an estimated 16 million children.


Narrowing the Gaps

This report shows that the costs of reaching the poorest children with life-saving, high-impact health interventions would be outweighed by greater results.

Structured Dialogue on Financing the Results of the UNICEF Strategic Plan, 2018–2021

This background paper considers leveraging partnerships and resources as a key strategy to achieve results for children, including by influencing domestic financing systems and fiscal policies.