Policy Surveillance of Universal Health Coverage Financing in Developing Countries (2022-2023)


An important United Nations sustainable development goal target for health aims to “achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.” Following this declaration, significant resources have been invested in tracking countries’ progress toward the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC). However, these efforts disproportionately focus on tracking implementation and outcome metrics without sufficient attention to the policy environment needed to achieve success. 

One reason for this is the lack of quality data on UHC policies for many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Solving this data problem will create opportunities for comparative cross-country analysis and longitudinal analysis to understand the impact of different policy experiments on UHC progress in different jurisdictions. 

Project Description

This project team will create a centralized source to track the evolution of UHC financing policy for LMICs over time. Building on the work of the 2021-2022 team, this project team will extend the policy surveillance process to 40 more countries. 

Policy surveillance addresses the chronic lack of readily accessible, nonpartisan information about status and trends in health legislation and policy. Team members will work with a multidisciplinary team of researchers at the Duke Center for Policy Impact in Global Health and the Policy Surveillance Program of the Center for Public Health Law Research at Temple University to conduct policy surveillance on UHC financing in LMICs. The primary focus will be to collect, code, analyze and disseminate data on the evolution of UHC financing policies in LMICs. 

The goal is to provide information for researchers and policymakers about three main UHC financing components: resource generation; risk pooling; and strategic purchasing and payments. These components are aligned with the World Health Organization’s advisory to countries on strengthening health financing for UHC. 

Conducting research will typically involve literature review, drafting coding questions, collecting policy/law data, coding the policies and analyzing policies. 

Anticipated Outputs

Publicly available datasets; interactive web application; conference abstracts; short videos; peer-reviewed publication

Student Opportunities

Ideally, this project team will be comprised of 3 graduate students and 6 undergraduate students. Interested graduate students will likely be from global health, medicine, law and international finance. Interested undergraduate students will likely be from global health, public policy and economics. Prospective team members must have comfort with simple online searches, basic analysis and synthesis of formal text, and strong writing skills. 

Comfort with more than one language is preferred but is not required. Students able to understand multiple languages will have a wider set of countries to choose from on this project. Knowledge and perspectives in global health are preferred but are not required.

Students will have opportunities to develop essential research skills and grow their networks. Each student will receive basic and advanced training on policy surveillance, a rapidly growing field. Students will work both independently and collaboratively as a team. Their independent work could form the foundation for thesis research. Students will gain scientific writing and communication skills through the development of short videos and a peer reviewed publication.

Team members will meet weekly. Students will work in small subteams to achieve key deliverables and will receive supervision from the project leaders. 

Ashwini Deshpande will serve as the project manager.

See the related Data+ project for Summer 2022; there is a separate application process for students who are interested in this optional component.


Fall 2022 – Spring 2023

  • Fall 2022: Begin expansion of policy surveillance to 40 additional countries; begin development of four health financing videos; begin development of two student-led abstracts; complete new grant application
  • Spring 2023: Complete expansion of policy surveillance to 40 additional countries; complete development of four health financing videos; complete development of two student-led abstracts


Academic credit available for fall and spring semesters

See Data+ summer project, Policy Surveillance of UHC Financing in Developing Countries (2022), and earlier related team, Policy Surveillance of Financing for Universal Health Coverage (2021-2022). 


Image: Universal Health Coverage Day 2020, by Trinity Care Foundation, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

People outside a mobile health clinic.

Team Leaders

  • Ashwini Sunil Deshpande, Duke Global Health Institute
  • Osondu Ogbuoji, Duke Global Health Institute
  • Gavin Yamey, Duke Global Health Institute

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Theiija Balasubramanian
  • Kiara Ekeigwe

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Ipchita Bharali, Duke Global Health Institute
  • Siddharth Dixit, Duke Global Health Institute
  • Wenhui Mao, Duke Global Health Institute

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Policy Surveillance Program (PSP) of the Center for Public Health Law Research at Temple University, Beasley School of Law