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Half of global population lacks social security, health care – ILO report

Ukpono Ukpong, Abuja

Despite widespread progress recorded in the development of national social security systems, there are still gaps that needs to be promptly addressed, this is even as the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) new report has disclosed that more than half of the world’s population lacks access to essential health care and just 29 per cent have comprehensive social security coverage.

According to the ILO report on the implementation of social protection in more than 100 countries, globally, only 68 per cent of persons of retirement age receive some form of pension, and in many low-income countries this drops to just 20 per cent.

Fewer than 60 per cent of countries reported that they had schemes or benefits to ensure income security for children.

The findings come in the General Survey 2019 , compiled by the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR).

The Survey (published under the title Universal social protection for human dignity, social justice and sustainable development) focuses on the ILO’s Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) , which calls for basic income security and essential healthcare guarantees from childhood to old age.

It also aims to encourage greater levels of protection for as many people as possible, as soon as possible.

The Legal Specialist at the ILO’s International Labour Standards Department, Emmanuelle St-Pierre Guilbault, in the report said “Social protection is proven to be good for societies and economies. This human right clearly has strong buy-in from countries, employers and workers across the world.

“This is a ‘must’ to tackle the broad and rising inequality we see today and foster stability.

“Social protection is proven to be good for societies and economies. The ILO stands ready to help countries address any remaining obstacles including the major issue of financing, on the road to achieving sufficient social protection for all.” she added.

The report stated that important gaps also remain in establishing basic income security. The report recommends that countries set clear objectives, with precise time frames, to extend adequate social protection for all, covering basic needs.

It also added that such policies should be shaped through inclusive and effective dialogue with workers’ and employers’ organisations, as well as other stakeholders.

“The issue of universal social protection coverage is also key for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals , notably those targets covering the ending of poverty and inequality, health and well-being, decent work, economic growth, peace, justice and strong institutions.

Social protection is expected to be on the agenda of the 2020 International Labour Conference.

General Surveys are prepared annually by CEACR, the supervisory body in charge of monitoring ILO member States’ compliance with international labour standards.

Each edition focuses on a subject chosen by the ILO’s Governing Body and takes an in-depth look at member States’ national law and practice in relation to it.

The General Survey 2019 is based on responses by 114 governments and observations submitted by employers’ and workers’ organizations.