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The Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) of Seoul National University celebrates being designated as a WHO Collaborating Center for Health Systems and Financing (WHOCC-HSF). The center director, Prof. Soonman Kwon will lead the centre in providing WHO with knowledge and information on Universal Health Coverage and Health Systems, covering concerns related to health care financing, pharmaceuticals, and hospital reforms. The launching was graced by the Regional Director of WHO Western Pacific Region (WPRO), Dr. Young-Soo Shin, and Dr. Yeon Cheon Oh, President of Seoul National University.


Dr. Shin, in his opening remarks embarked a commitment for close cooperation in supporting health systems of low- and middle-income countries in the region to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The president of Seoul National University Dr. Oh, also expects that with the launching of WHOCC, the influence of GSPH internationally will be further expanded, contributing more to improvements in global health. The activity was attended by faculty members of GSPH, guests, and students.


Part of its launching activities is an opening seminar with distinguished speakers from several institutions. Prof. Michael Reich (Takemi Professor, Harvard School of Public Health), introduced the flagship approach to health system reform and moving towards UHC. Dr. Reich shared experiences of various countries that had been successful in implementing UHC. This was followed by a presentation from Dr. Vivian Lin, Director of Health Systems in WHO-WPRO as she emphasized the role of the WHOCC as an evidence-providing institution linking scientific facts to health policies. The Director of WHOCC-HSF, Prof. Soonman Kwon discussed key issues and challenges in achieving UHC, mentioning that achieving Universal Health Care involves complex process that includes issues other than health financing alone. The seminar ended with presentations from the Senior Health Economist from World Bank, Caryn Brendencamp and the Lead Health Specialist of Asian Development Bank, Paticia Moser, showing the perspectives of the two major financing institutions on health system and financing.


As the first WHOCC in Asia providing knowledge support for UHC, expectations are high for the centre’s potential in contributing to improvements in health systems across countries. The technical strength of the GSPH could directly help low- and middle-income countries in the region currently initiating health reforms towards UHC.




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