Social protection

Building Social Protection Floors for All: Support to the Extension of Social Health Protection in Asia

The Project has for overall goal to help more women and men in Asia access adequate social health protection, under the overall umbrella of national strategies toward UHC and the global development agenda including ILO's Flagship Programme on Social Protection Floors.

Health services at a public hospital in Viet Nam. © ILO/N. Axelrod


Social 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.

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. However, 1.6 billion across Asia and the Pacific still lack access to social health protection. Despite more than three-quarters of the region’s population being legally entitled to health protection, pervasive gaps in legal coverage, lack of awareness on rights coupled with practical difficulties and impediments to accessing services leaves huge numbers across Asia and the Pacific needing to pay to receive healthcare, often plunging them into poverty. The adequacy of benefits also remains a challenge with underfunding or unpredictable funding a major issue.

Moreover, the population is ageing at an unprecedented pace in the Asia-Pacific region. Population ageing has major economic and social implications, and Governments are increasingly setting the issues of provision and financing of Long-Term care services high in their policy agenda.

Project objective

The Luxembourg-funded ILO project “Support to the Extension of Social Health Protection in Asia” has for overall objective to support more women and men in Asia 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.

South-South Collaboration – the CONNECT network for Social Health Protection in Asia

The establishment of a regional network on Social Health Protection, CONNECT, is the first of its kind in this area of work in the Asia-Pacific region.

CONNECT is a multi-stakeholder network of public institutions and non-for-profit private organizations in the Asia Pacific region working together to support the extension of SHP coverage at country and regional level. The network seeks to strengthens the capacity of target countries to develop and implement strong, sustainable and comprehensive health policies, strategies and plans towards the achievement of UHC.

As a regional centre of excellence its member deliver joint researches, provide capacity building opportunities and promote good practices on the extension of social health protection. The interventions are founded on and promotes South-South cooperation initiatives as a complement to on-going national efforts and in support to already existing national policies.

Main implementing partners

  • Lao People's Democratic Republic: 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
  • Governments, social partners and Academia from various countries in Asia such as Cambodia, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and Viet Nam.