Worldwide 1.3 billion people do not have access to affordable health care. Every year, more than 150 million people face financial catastrophe due to health care costs and about 100 million people are forced into poverty every year because of these costs and a lack of effective social health protection coverage. Against this background, addressing health-related poverty, income security and access to health services while meeting needs are the key issues.
Based on the core values of equity, solidarity and social justice, the ILO defines social health protection as a series of public or publicly organized and mandated private measures against social distress and economic loss caused by the reduction of productivity, stoppage or reduction of earnings or the cost of necessary treatment that can result from ill health.
Universal social health protection is a mechanism that ensures that those in need have effective access to at least essential care. It is designed to alleviate the burden posed by ill health, including death, disability and loss of income.