According to estimations in a paper published recently in the Lancet Global Health, as much as $274 to $374 billion would be required in annual spending in order to expand health services to meet the health related Sustainable Development Goals-3 (SDG3) by the year 2030. The SDG3 are related to health and aim to ensure “healthy living and well being” for everyone around the world.

These costs represent an expenditure of about about $271 per person per year or about 7.5 (2.1-20.5) per cent of gross domestic product of these countries. Three fourth of these costs are needed for health systems strengthening, including enhancing the health workforce and medical equipment. This investment would result in 97 million lives saved with a mean life expectancy gain of 3.1 to 8.4 years.

Allocating 7.5% of total GDP on health is a huge increase for most low and middle income countries from their current spending. India for example spends about 3% of its GDP on health, Nepal and Sri Lanka spend about 5%, while countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia spend less than 3% of their GDP on health. Whether or not these resources are allocated to ensuring universal health coverage and achieving SDG3 largely depends on how much importance the political class places on these health related goals vis-a-vis other priorities.

Rich countries like the UK spend about 10% of GDP on health. The United States spends a whopping 18% (almost half of which is government spending) of GDP on health.