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This article is part of the supplement: Health Services Research: Evidence-based practice

Open Access Oral presentation

Health system challenges in implementing universal health coverage: Asian perspectives and experiences

Tikki Pang1*, Tiffany Robyn Soetikno2 and Agus Suwandono3

  • * Corresponding author: Tikki Pang

Author Affiliations

1 Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, Singapore

2 Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York, USA

3 School of Public Health, Diponegoro University, Semarang, Indonesia and National Institute of Health Research and Development (NIHRD), Ministry of Health, Jakarta, Indonesia

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14(Suppl 2):O3  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-S2-O3

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:7 July 2014

© 2014 Pang et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Oral presentation

In line with the global trend towards providing universal health coverage (UHC) as a primary tool in achieving sustainable development in the post-2015, post-MDG era, many low- and middle-income countries in the Asian region are in the midst of developing and implementing various schemes and strategies to achieve UHC. Given the diversity in health system structures, resources and capacities, the implementation of UHC in these countries poses major challenges to health service delivery. Indonesia, the fourth largest country in the world, rolled out its UHC plan, called JKN (National Health Assurance) in early 2014 and faces formidable logistic and administrative challenges with regards to access to medicines, human resources, financing, governance and scaling up health service delivery. Key implementation challenges include those associated with issues of equity, quality and sustainability. The Indonesian experience in rolling out UHC may also be compared to other countries in the region which have implemented UHC with varying degrees of success (e.g. Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, India, Malaysia, etc.). In the spirit of ‘reverse innovation’, it is also hoped that lessons learnt from UHC implementation in these countries will provide valuable learning lessons for each other, and for the success of UHC more broadly.