BackgroundSocial health protection - affordable health insurance or government-funded health services - aims to provide adequate benefit packages to protect against the risk of ill health and related financial burden and catastrophe. It is crucial in poverty reduction and access to essential health care. The importance and potential of social protection and social health protection in reducing poverty and inequalities and contributing to a more inclusive and sustainable economic development is recognized in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
In low-income countries an estimated 90 per cent of people have no financial protection against catastrophic health expenditures. Globally, about 39 per cent of the population is lacking such coverage. As a result, about 40 per cent of health expenditures globally are shouldered directly by the sick and their families. Asia is one of the two regions in the world which accounts for 97 per cent of the world’s population impoverished by out-of-pocket health spending –with Asia having the highest rate of impoverishment at the US$1.90-a-day poverty line -1.9 per cent.
However Peace, sustained economic growth and political commitment have led to major progress on social health protection in countries across the region, in terms of coverage, but also in relation to systems strengthening, legal reform and financial sustainability.
In their path to UHC, Southeast Asian countries are facing similar challenges and are going through similar exercises and reforms to strengthen their social health protection systems.
Project objectiveThe Luxembourg-funded ILO project “Support to the Extension of Social Health Protection in South-East Asia” has for overall objective to support more women and men in Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam access adequate social health protection, under the overall umbrella of national strategies towards UHC and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including ILO’s Flagship Programme on Social Protection Floors.
The Regional Technical Facility on Social Health Protection (RTF)The establishment of a Regional Technical Facility (RTF) on Social Health Protection which falls under the Regional component of the Project, will be the first of its kind in this area of work in the Asia-Pacific Region. It will aim to support the extension of social health protection coverage at country and regional levels by strengthening the capacity of target countries to develop and implement strong, sustainable and comprehensive health policies, strategies and plans on Social Health Protection, as a contribution to the achievement of UHC.
As a regional centre of excellence it will provide and promote good practices, leadership and joint research opportunities and will deliver training and technical assistance in the region. In an effort to increase regional capacity and knowledge on social protection, the facility will promote South-South cooperation initiatives [ [ as a complement to on-going national efforts and in support to already existing national policies.
- Lao PDR: Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, National Social Security Fund, Ministry of Health, National Health Insurance Bureau, Lao Federation of Trade Unions, Lao Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Viet Nam: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Viet Nam Social Security, Viet Nam workers and employers’ organizations
- Myanmar: Social Security Board, Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, Ministry of Health and Sports; Myanmar workers and employers’ organizations
- Thailand: Ministry of Public Health, Health Economics and Health Security Division (HEHS), Praboromarajchanok Institute for Health Workforce Development (PIHWD), Health Insurance System Research Office (HISRO), Mahidol University