Toolkit on Social Health Protection

An effective social health protection system provides universal access to needed health care that is affordable, available, of adequate quality and offers financial protection in times of illness, injury and maternity. The ILO supports its constituents in this endeavour, see our service offer and flagship thematic pages. This Toolkit provides a gateway to relevant material on social health protection for practitioners as well as for those who wish to learn about the topic.

ILO standards on social health protection: a rights-based approach towards universal health coverage

Health and social security are human rights and as such should be guaranteed to all persons, leaving no one behind. This rights-based approach is rooted in the body of human rights and ILO standards which represent a global consensus to guide the development of social health protection systems. International standards provide a range of principles that can be employed in the design and implementation of social protection schemes, which satisfy the criteria of availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality. Social health protection is firmly grounded in the international rights framework.

Statistical picture: Tracking legal and effective coverage and adequacy

The right to social health protection is not yet a universal reality. Significant progress was achieved in increasing population coverage, with almost two thirds of the global population protected by a scheme. Still, while population coverage increased, less attention was paid to adequacy and equity in some contexts.

Building Social Health Protection systems throughout the world

ILO analyse and compile experiences from countries in Asia and the Pacific, CIS and Latin America in their efforts to build universal Social Health Protection systems that are resilient, effective, inclusive, adequate and sustainable over the long term. It aims to shed light on the role of social health protection as a transformative policy tool contributing to effective access to health care without financial hardship. These reports highlight progress made, challenges encountered and remaining coverage gaps, and explores their root causes.


Thematic areas


Kenya: Maternity cash benefit for women in the informal economy - call to action

Extending social health protection: Accelerating progress towards UHC in Asia and the Pacific

Towards Universal Social Health Protection Voices: Nguyen Thi Ha

Management, administration and actuarial work

Social health protection management and administration

Good governance of the social health protection system aims at ensuring transparent financial management and administration. Sound legal and regulatory frame-works need to foster institutional coherence and quality public services. ILO standards thus also call for regular monitoring of implementation, and periodic evaluation within a comprehensive accountability framework and, where appropriate, for periodical actuarial studies and calculations concerning financial sustainability to be conducted.

Actuarial modelling for Social Health Protection

Building on decades of policy and analytical work to support countries in the extension of their social protection systems, the ILO has created a set of quantitative tools to support the long-term planning and sustainability of social health protection schemes and programmes. ILO/HEALTH was created to support the development of institutional capacities to produce a strong evidence-based process of policy reform.

Partnerships in the areas of Social Health Protection and Health Financing

The ILO takes an integrated approach with other development partners working on health. In particular, the ILO works in a complementary fashion with the member organizations of the main networks on social health protection and health financing and provides its normative and technical contribution.

ILO service offer in the area of Social Health Protection

The ILO works with line ministries, social health protection institutions, social partners and other stakeholders, requesting technical support.

To see our intervention, please see our flagship thematic page. Please contact to