Social protection coverage gap widens; ILO

ILO copronavirus

The International Labour Organisation has said that Coronavirus has exposed the gaps in social protection coverage in developing countries, which could push millions of people to poverty.

The ILO stated this in its report on Social protection responses to COVID– 19 in developing countries. Social protection is “an indispensable mechanism for delivering support to individuals during the crisis”.

In the report, the ILO states that the ability to access affordable and quality healthcare has become a matter of “life and death”.

The report has cautioned policy makers against just focussing on Coronavirus and ignoring other urgent health issues.  There are other health conditions that kill people daily. Moreover, it said that 55 per cent of the world’s population (about 4 billion people) lack social insurance. Moreover, it said that only 20 per cent of unemployed people enjoy unemployment benefits.

The International Labour Organisation says that there was a huge gap in sickness benefits given to the people. It said that the workers are forced to go to work even when they are ill because of the lack of sickness benefits. They go to work even though they need to be in quarantine. This only increased the risk of the diseases spreading to others, the ILO said. Moreover, the related income loss also increased the risk of poverty of workers and their families.

The report has called for extending sickness benefit coverage to everyone. IT also asked for increasing benefit levels to ensure income security, speeding benefit delivery and expanding the scope of benefits to include prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

ILO Social Protection Department director Shahra Razavi said that COVID-19 crisis was a wake-up call. “It has shown that a lack of social protection not only affects the poor but also exposes the vulnerability of those who have been getting by relatively well,” she said.

The ILO said that the need for social protection even as the developing countries is facing rapid declines and capital outflows.  Though developed countries are coming up with large fiscal stimulus packages, the developing countries are not in a position to do so. The estimated financing needs of the developing nations are around 2.5 trillion dollars.


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