Health services sector

Health services are one of the fundamental sectors of society and the economy. The ILO endorses the fundamental principles of the human right to health and social protection. Providing social health protection and equal access to quality health care has significant positive effects on individual and public health, economic growth and development. The health sector is also a major employment sector, with important potential in job creation.

Yet, the affordability of health care challenges most countries. The global shortages and unequal distribution of qualified health personnel are a major constraint in providing universal access to health care. Wide-spread reforms of health systems are continuously changing the employment environment for health care workers.

Decent work for health workers is essential to provide quality health care. Health services are unique and complex work environments with inherent opportunities and challenges. The ILO supports improvement of working conditions and labour relations in the health sector through sectoral labour standards and social dialogue, and collaborates with World Health Organization (WHO) to promote supportive, enabling and healthy work environments for the health workforce.


  1. New publication and press release

    International Day of Older Persons: More than half of the world’s older persons lack quality long-term care

    The study LTC protection for older persons: A review of coverage deficits in 46 countries which covers 80 per cent of the world population aged 65 and over finds extreme deficits in social protection for older persons in need of long-term care due to a lack of 13.6 million LTC workers worldwide.

  2. New publication

    Brazil: Case study on working time organization and its effects in the health services sector

  3. Comment

    Ebola: How decent work in the health sector saves lives of health personnel

    International labour standards and tools, if correctly applied, are very effective in protecting frontline health workers treating patients with potentially deadly infectious diseases, such as Ebola, says Christiane Wiskow, Senior Health Sector Specialist at the International Labour Organization (ILO).

  4. Feature

    Labour Migration - In their own voices

    An ILO-produced film documents the opportunities and obstacles on the path taken by migrant health-care workers from the Philippines. The film “Tale of a Journey: Migrant Health Workers’ Voice through images” was made by the ILO’s Decent Work across Borders (DWAB) project, funded by the European Union, and produced in partnership with the Asia Pacific Film Institute.

  5. HealthWISE - Work Improvement in Health Services

  1. New ILO study on Global evidence on inequities in rural health protection

  2. Press release

    More than half of the global rural population excluded from health care

  3. The organization of working time and its effects in the health services sector: A comparative analysis of Brazil, South Africa and the Republic of Korea