Health care, long-term care and sickness benefits

health afghanistan

Health coverage, and particularly access to health care when it is needed, is crucial for human well-being. In addition, of all the elements of social protection, health care is most essential to the economy as a whole and to economic recovery in particular. Against this background, health protection schemes and systems that are well designed and implemented, and are embedded in appropriate economic and labour market policies, have the potential to recover large parts of their costs at the national level. Thus, both the population and the economy are beneficiaries of investments in social health protection.

Given the critical importance of the right to the highest achievable standard of health for individuals, as well as for the social and economic development of the societies in which they live in, it is important that countries and development partners across the world be aligned in support of the objective of establishing universal coverage.

Photo credit: “Providing healthcare and hope in Afghanistan” by DFID – UK Department for International Development (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).


Expert Commentaries

Unpacking the ILO’s Social Protection Floor Recommendation (2012) from a Women’s Rights Perspective

ILO and the right to social security: implicit assumptions about women The twentieth century witnessed the development of national social security and social protection mechanisms aimed at providing economic, social and public answers to address social risks. Social security schemes were based on the assumption that either women were to behave like male workers in […]


Persons living with HIV/AIDS or other chronic illnesses

  When individuals and communities are able to realize their rights — to education, social security,  information and, most importantly, non-discrimination — the personal and societal impacts of HIV and AIDS and other chronic illnesses are reduced. Often persons living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses often face difficulties in accessing social protection benefits including […]

Equality and Non-discrimination

Non-discrimination and equality are core elements of the international human rights normative framework. Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that every human being is entitled to all rights and freedoms “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, […]

Legal Instruments

Ley 19.505 que concede permiso especial a trabajadores en caso de enfermedad grave de sus hijos.

Establece que los padres tendrán permiso para ausentarse de su trabajo por el número de horas equivalentes a 10 jornadas ordinarias de trabajo al año, distribuidas a elección de ella en jornadas completas, en el caso de que la salud de un menor de 18 años requiera la atención personal en caso de accidente grave […]

Decreto supremo N° 2480

Instituye el “Subsidio Universal Prenatal por la vida” para las mujeres gestantes que no están registradas en ningún ente gestor del seguro social de corto plazo, con la finalidad de mejorar la salud materna y reducir la mortalidad neonatal

Medical Care Recommendation, 1944 (No. 69)

Together with Recommendation No. 67 and Recommendation No. 69 is at the origin of the development of social security in ILO instruments and can be considered the blueprint for comprehensive social security systems. Together, they establish a comprehensive system of income security and medical care protection for each of the nine classical branches of social […]

Medical Care and Sickness Benefits Convention, 1969 (No. 130)

Convention No. 130 covers both the contingency of medical care benefits and cash sickness benefit reflecting the trend to establish comprehensive health insurance systems. All employees, including apprentices, or at least 75 per cent of the whole economically active population, or all residents whose means do not exceed certain limits should be covered for both […]

Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102)

A reference for the development of social security systems, Convention No. 102 is the flagship of the up-to-date social security Conventions since it is deemed to embody the internationally accepted definition of the very principle of social security.  Convention No. 102 is unique for both its conceptual formulation of social security, and the guidance it provides for […]

Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)

Recommendation No. 202 is the first international instrument to offer guidance to countries to close social security gaps and progressively achieve universal protection through the establishment and maintenance of comprehensive social security systems. To this aim, the Recommendation calls for (1) the implementation, as a priority, of social protection floors (SPF) as a fundamental element […]

Legal Cases

The Rights to Work and Health in The Sudan

Nature of the Case Upon consideration of a communication submitted before it, the African Commission held that in its persecution of human rights defenders, the government of Sudan violated several provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including the rights to work and health. Summary In 2012, the African Commission on Human […]

The Right to Affordable Care in the United States of America

Nature of the Case This case came before the Supreme Court on appeal, and constitutes a challenge to one aspect of the Affordable Care Act, specifically regarding whether subsidies can be provided to low-income people buying health insurance through federal exchanges. These subsidies are vital in enabling people to access affordable health care coverage. Summary […]


Universal social protection for human dignity, social justice and sustainable development: General Survey concerning the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)

The ILO’s 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 […]

Economic and Social Rights Review in Africa 3 (Volume 18)

This review discusses two issues: maternal health care in Mozambique and adequate housing in Zimbabwe.

Challenges in Long-Term Care of the Elderly in Central and Eastern Europe

Long-term care of the elderly is an imminent policy issue for countries facing profound demographic transformations due to ageing. Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries face complex challenges in securing accessible, adequate and sustainable long-term care. While CEE countries anticipate a growing number of elderly persons in need of long-term care as a consequence of […]

Social security system of Ukraine in 2014–15 and beyond: towards effective social protection floors

This report presents a review of the recent changes made to the Ukrainian social security system between 2014 and 2015 and of the planned future reforms in the light of international social security standards. The ILO assessment aims to assist the Ukrainian Government and the social partners in effectively formulating and implementing measures to sustain […]

Long-Term Care Insurance in Japan: Understanding the Ideas behind Its Design

In April 2000, the Japanese government launched its fifth social insurance scheme, the Long-term Care Insurance, to respond to the increasing demand for long-term care. Since then, the Long-term Care Insurance has been established in Japanese society as an essential system for people’s lives, while it has various challenges. In many cases, as it happened […]

Provision of Basic Healthcare Services by Non-State Actors in Arab Countries: Benefits and Risks

Basic social services such as education, water and sanitation, healthcare and housing are intended to meet essential human needs. States are given the task of guaranteeing equal access to these services, either through direct provision or through the regulation of services provided by other institutions, such as businesses or civil society organizations. Following independence, most […]

The Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme: barriers to access for informal workers

Ghana’s National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is an innovative attempt to extend social protection to informal workers, and, as such, it may hold important policy lessons for other countries where the informal economy is large and growing and where informal workers are excluded from existing social protection mechanisms. Few studies have specifically focused on the […]

Evidence on gender inequities in social health protection. The case of women living in rural areas

While in many developing countries, urban women have achieved some progress towards equality due to better chances in growing formal economies, rural women are often stuck in harsh living and working conditions in informal economies, e.g. as landless labourers or domestic workers. The objective of this paper is to give evidence of the gender inequalities in social […]

Global evidence on inequities in rural health protection: New data on rural deficits in health coverage for 174 countries

This paper presents global estimates on rural/urban disparities in access to health-care services. The report uses proxy indicators to assess key dimensions of coverage and access involving the core principles of universality and equity. Based on the results of the estimates, policy options are discussed to close the gaps in a multi-sectoral approach addressing issues […]

Universal health protection: progress to date and the way forward

This paper proposes policy options based on ILO research and experiences that aim at universal coverage and equitable access to health care. The policy options discussed focus on ensuring the human rights to social security and health and on the rights-based approaches underpinning the need for equity and poverty alleviation. The paper also provides insights […]

Social Protection and Human Rights