Approaches to Universal Health Coverage and Occupational Health and Safety for the Informal Workforce in Developing Countries: Workshop Summary


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Universal health coverage has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a key element in reducing social inequility and a critical component of sustainable development and poverty reduction. In most low- and middle-income countries health systems are evolving to increasingly rely on the private sector (e.g., health providers from different parts of the private sector, corporations, social enteprises, and philanthropy) because the public sector lacks the infrastructure and staff to meet all health care needs. With growing individual assets available for private-sector expenditure, patients often seek better access to technology, staff, and medicines. However, in low-income countries nearly 50 percent of health care financing is out-of-pocket. With the expected increase in the overall fraction of care provided through the private sector, these expenditures can be financially catastrophic for individuals in the informal workforce.

On July 29–30, 2014, the Institute of Medicine Forum on Public–Private Partnerships for Global Health and Safety held a workshop on approaches to universal health coverage and occupational health and safety for informal sector workers in developing countries. The workshop examined the approaches, successes and challenges, and lessons learned in a purposefully selected group of countries in order to explore the topics of universal health coverage and occupational health and safety for the informal workforce in developing countries. The overall workshop objective was to illuminate best practices and lessons learned for the informal workforce in developing countries in the financing of health care with respect to health care delivery models that are especially suitable to meeting a population’s needs for a variety of occupational health issues, including the prevention or mitigation of hazardous risks and the costs of providing medical and rehabilitation services and other benefits to various types of workers within this population.