Universal health coverage (UHC) is a concept that is deeply rooted in the Development Agenda and is receiving increasing attention at the global level. The interconnection of infection prevention and control (IPC), UHC and quality has not been well described. We aim to present a novel and compelling case for considering IPC as a critical part of quality UHC and develop a preliminary theory of change model, informed by existing literature and emerging thinking on this evolving field. A review of published and grey literature on UHC, quality and IPC was undertaken with a view to triangulating common goals and informing a theory of change. A preliminary theory of change framework describing the potential synergy between UHC, quality and IPC in catalysing concerted action at every level of the health system has been developed. A table outlining key considerations at the policy, practice and research levels is also presented. This paper considers the extent to which the global IPC community in its widest form should better position IPC as a fundamental component of quality within the context of rapidly advancing UHC-driven health system reforms. The theory of change will be of value to the many organisations involved in supporting countries and facilities as they move towards a true focus on UHC.