Equity in Health for All: Advancing Social Health Protection for Persons with Disabilities


This session will have international sign language interpretation, captioning, and simultaneous interpretation to English, Khmer, Lao, and Vietnamese. 

Despite progress in Asia and the Pacific in expanding social health protection coverage, substantial gaps remain. Only 63.4 per cent of the population in the region is protected by a health care scheme, leaving about 1.6 billion people wholly unprotected. Such aggregated figures further hide inequalities within and across countries. Persons with disabilities suffer more disadvantages than the general population when seeking access to social health protection. They have greater need for health care, tend to be poorer and on average older than the general population, which increases the likeliness of diseases. They also face greater barriers to access health care services, and often lack knowledge on the care they needs and how to access them. Finally, they are exposed to greater costs to access health care, both direct medical and non-medical costs, and indirect costs.

Persons with disabilities are estimated to be over 650 million in Asia, representing sixty percent of the global number of persons with disabilities. It is likely this number will increase with rapidly ageing population, road traffic injuries, chronic health conditions and consequences of climate changes.

This situation underscores the urgency of integrating the perspectives and needs of persons with disabilities into the design and implementation of social health protection systems. It is a fundamental pre-requisite to ensure persons with disability do not have to forego care or to face financial hardship when in need of health care. To turn this into reality, evidence-based policy changes are needed.

This webinar aims to present critical insights from a recent study focusing on access to social health protection for persons with disabilities in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam. The research was motivated by the necessity to improve social health protection coverage for persons with disabilities, aligning with the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability and the Incheon Strategy, which seeks to enhance health service access and social protection for this vulnerable group. The webinar will report on legal and operational barriers persons with disabilities are facing to enjoy social health protection, and propose strategies to bridge coverage gaps, ensuring more inclusive social health protection systems for persons with disabilities.



Panudda Boonpala, Deputy Regional Director, Asia and the Pacific, ILO

Charles Knox-Vydmanov, Consultant, ILO

Phuong Nguyen Khanh, Director, Health Strategy and Policy Institute (Viet Nam)

Boravin Ket, Program Coordinator, Agile (Cambodia)

Ketmany Chanthakoumane, Deputy head of the Division for Health Policy and Health System Research, Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute (Lao PDR)

Christine Phillips, Professor, Australia National University, Social Foundations of Medicine at the School of Medicine and Psychology (Australia)

Alexandre Cote, Social policy specialist, UNICEF

Lim Puay Tiak, Chairman, ASEAN Disability Forum (ADF)

Moderator: Marielle Phe Goursat, Project Manager, ILO

Moderator (Q&A): Yuta Momose, Social Protection Officer, ILO


This will be the third webinar of the series “Towards inclusive social protection systems: participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities”. Following the adoption of the joint statement “Towards inclusive social protection systems supporting the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities” in 2019, a broad coalition of development partners, experts OPDs took part in a process facilitated by UNICEF, ILO and IDA with the support of the UNPRPD, the government of Norway and the European Commission to develop technical resources. The series is implemented jointly with these partners and will discuss some of the core modules of the guidance note.