Small schemes examine pooling of resources and enhanced cooperation

Conference analyzes unique challenges facing small social security schemes.

Representatives of small social security organizations from Africa and other regions have examined the potential benefits of pooling resources and strengthened cooperation at an international conference organized by the International Social Security Association (ISSA) in cooperation with the National Social Security Fund of Gabon (CNSS), in Libreville, 23-24 October 2008.

The aim of the conference was to analyze the unique challenges facing small social security schemes, in both industrialized and developing countries, and to work together on possible solutions and responses. Two areas were the central focus of discussion: Overcoming obstacles to the provision of adequate health care coverage; and the pooling of administrative resources, notably human and technological.

The management of major projects, and of social security systems in general, call for increasingly heavy investment in human, technical as well as in financial terms. However, small schemes are subject to particular constraints related to their limited capacity and human and financial resources.    

Opening the conference, the Prime Minister of Gabon, Jean Eyéghé Ndong, welcomed the participants, and emphasized the specific difficulties faced by social security schemes in developing countries. These should be, he said, an "expression of national solidarity," and Mr. Ndong encouraged the participants to examine pooling of resources as a means of extending social security coverage. Also attending the inaugural ceremony were Minister of Labour, Work and Social Protection, Jean François Ndongou, and other government and social security officials.    

The social security system in Gabon has undergone a series of reforms in recent years. The Director General of the CNSS, Antoine Dangoualo Yalanzele detailed the progress accomplished in Gabon in restructuring its hospitals and medical centres, and in the management of pensions and other services. Social security systems can be a formidable instrument in the fight against poverty and in improving productivity, Mr. Yalanzele said, but the scale of challenges requires greater collaboration.    

"The need to mobilize resources constitutes an ever-greater challenge for social security schemes, in particular in small countries," said Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, ISSA Secretary General, in an address to the conference.

"This is one of the reasons why pooling of available resources and cooperation with other organizations is becoming more and more important. Pooling seems to be needed not only in the fields of management, ICT and human resources, but also in the acquisition and transfer of knowledge and skills, including staff training," Mr. Konkolewsky concluded.    

The international conference follows meetings on related themes held in Nassau (Bahamas) in 2001 and Nicosia (Cyprus) in 1993.

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