Countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region spent US$ 92 billion on health in 2008. This accounts for 1.6% of global health spending for 8% of the world's population. About 34% of this amount is spent by the six high-income countries in the Region, representing only 6.6% of the Region's population.
Regionally, 7.8% of general government expenditure is allocated to health. In most low-income countries, almost 60% of health spending is paid out-of-pocket. This figure reaches 80% in some countries. This out-of-pocket payment is the main cause of catastrophic expenditures that push families into poverty.
Universal coverage of health care helps to limit the financial barriers to accessing health services. Moving towards universal coverage is done through increasing the percentage of the population, services and costs covered by prepayment schemes.