Social security will play a more critical role in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it cannot do so alone. This is one of the key conclusions of a new report by the International Social Security Association (ISSA), outlining five main priority areas for social security in Asia and the Pacific. The report was presented during the first Virtual Social Security Forum for the region.
The report Priorities for social security – Asia and the Pacific 2022: Trends, challenges and solutions, builds on the four topical areas that were defined by ISSA members as priorities for the period 2020-2022. In addition, there was the COVID-19 pandemic, which became an unexpected and unwanted priority for all societies, governments and social security institutions from early 2020 onwards.
“This report details the wide-ranging innovations of social security institutions in Asia and the Pacific in response to the crisis and in addressing the long-standing challenges of extending coverage, providing old-age protection, reducing inequalities and strengthening social inclusion”, said Marcelo Abi-Ramia Caetano, ISSA Secretary General.
The priorities and some of the key messages outlined in the report are:
Evolving management practices: The report makes it clear the client is at the centre of all innovations in social security in the region of Asia and the Pacific. The overriding goal is to continuously improve the institutional capacity and efficiency in order to provide quality and sustainable services to all.
Extending and maintaining social security coverage: Most countries have made significant developments in enhancing social protection floors, expanding coverage to the missing middle, and increasing health coverage. Comprehensive policies implemented with innovative digital solutions, automated contribution collection systems and one-stop-shops enable better access to coverage modalities.
Meeting the needs of an ageing population: While there are large differences across the region, a common trend is an ageing population that requires the development of long-term care and services to meet chronic health problems and to support the elderly to continue to lead independent lives.
Promoting inclusive growth and social cohesion: The COVID‑19 pandemic is unravelling decades of progress in the reduction of poverty, inequality, and vulnerability. Beyond the need for emergency measures, the aim is to incrementally implement universal programmes.
Social security responses to COVID‑19 to the pandemic: While many measures have been put in place to respond to the crisis, it calls attention to the urgent need for modern, more comprehensive and shock responsive social protection systems.
The report provides important input to the ISSA Virtual Social Security Forum for Asia and the Pacific, taking place 22–24 February 2022, and it includes a number of the good practices submitted by member institutions as part of the 2021 ISSA Good Practice Award competition for the region.