Social policy response towards the COVID-19 pandemic in some countries (Part 2): Lessons for Vietnam

28 Tháng Mười Hai, 2023

Recently, to limit the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemicmost countries in the worldin addition to health policies, have implemented social policies, however, the extent related to the effectiveness of these policies is not the same. In this article, the authors of the University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City (UEH) mentioned social policy responses in some countries, and on that basis, to draw lessons for Vietnam to be able to cope with the future epidemic crises.

In accordance with the analysis of social policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in a number of countries, the authors have drawn some lessons for Vietnam in the second Part of the article.

Policy discussion

Although a strong public health response is arguably the most important and necessary step to address an emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic, it will not be enough to meet the short-term consequences and the longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by disease control measures. The policy responses of Germany, India, and the United States demonstrate the issues of social policy in response to the pandemic, and the link between social policy and public health policy is crucial. COVID-19 is a protracted crisis; therefore, emergency measures could last for years.

What is special, the social policies implemented during emergencies can shape the country’s socio-economic recovery trajectory by identifying which losses need quick and long-term support. Paying attention to social policy responses allows the Government to gain deeper insight into the social determinants of health.

The underlying social and economic inequality exacerbates the health risks associated with the epidemic and threatens to spread if social policies are not implemented. The connection between public health measures and social policy is important because social policy is not only a way to address the short-term health threat of COVID-19 but also an opportunity to address fundamental inequalities concerning socio-economics.

The success and the failure of public health emergency response depend on its compatibility with social policy. Separating social policy and public health, in theory or practice, weakens both and increases the risk of both failing. The current or future pandemic response strategies should pay attention to social policy supports in the face of public health emergencies.

Policy implications for Vietnam

In order to build and to strengthen social policy systems and social security to adapt flexibly and effectively to pandemics listed as COVID-19, Vietnam, in the coming time, needs to pay attention to the following issues:

* In terms of income guarantee policy

– Economic recovery, after controlling the epidemic and ensuring income for workers, should be given special priority which is to quickly bring workers back to the market through strengthening supply-demand labor connections.

– The impact of the pandemic causes the structure of occupations to change, many new industries appear and focus on the application of information technology and/or e-commerce; occupations requiring high skills will increase while occupations requiring demands for medium and low skills will decrease. Therefore, the issue of supporting career change training and labor market reintegration training needs to receive more attention, to help workers return to the market soon. Small business households and small and medium-sized enterprises need to have priority and incentive policies because this will be the force to recover faster than other types and to create more jobs to attract dynamic workers.

* In terms of insurance policies

Continuing to have policies to encourage and support employees to maintain their participation in social insurance, health insurance, and accident insurance. Promoting propaganda of social insurance, health insurance, and accident insurance policies has actively supported and supported workers in particular and people in general to overcome difficulties caused by the pandemic. This is the most proactive and sustainable social security measure to make people clearly recognize the superior nature of the social insurance policy that our Party and State builds, manages and protects.

– Paying more attention to coordination between Levels, Sectors and Unions in organizing the implementation of social insurance policies, especially voluntary social insurance policies: it is necessary to amend policies and increase support levels. Supporting people to participate in voluntary social insurance in the spirit of ensuring fairness, with priority given to vulnerable groups listed as the poor, the para-poor, low-income people, people with disabilities, and people with disabilities. ethnic minorities, agricultural and rural workers and so on, all of which help them easily access and participate in voluntary social insurance.

– Implementing promptly, accurately and transparently social insurance, health insurance, and accident insurance policies to support workers and people so as to overcome the difficulties through income, healthcare and vocational education supports.

* In terms of social assistance policy

– Promoting reform and resource allocation to expand the coverage of social security support policies for everyone, including those who are having difficulty in meeting their immediate needs. In the long term, it is necessary to build a shock-responsive social security system to strengthen preparedness and response to various risks, including economic crises, natural disasters and epidemics, through regular and unexpected social assistance.

– Removing all barriers to administrative procedures to ensure an effective and timely process of identifying social protection beneficiaries, without discriminating against the most vulnerable groups (including people lacking personal documents, migrant workers and so on; at the same time, completing the criteria and conditions for receiving cash assistance for individual business households and informal workers).

– Ensuring access to social security regimes, including health insurance and effective transfer of benefits through electronic payments, mobile money services, and e-wallets.

– Currently, countries are facing great pressure to consolidate their finances after spending huge sums on crisis response measures. However, if countries cut spending on social security, that action will have serious consequences. Therefore, the social security sector urgently needs to be invested in right now to ensure “no one is left behind” and strengthen the community’s resilience to emergency situations.

* In terms of policies regarding the access to basic social services

– Basic social services listed as health, education, housing, information and communication, environment and so on need to be invested in a synchronous and modern way, paying special attention to the service system at the grassroots level. The reality of COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control shows that the capacity of the service system at the grassroots level has been being very limited in terms of material resources, equipment, and human resources. Besides, the database system from the grassroots level is weak as well as lacking connection and sharing so that we can promptly have solutions to overcome risks such as recent epidemics.

Please refer to the full research Social policy response towards the COVID-19 pandemic in some countries TẠI ĐÂY.

Author group: Dr. Đỗ Lâm Hoàng Trang, MSc. Hoàng Xuân Sơn – Faculty of Political Ideology, University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City (UEH).

This is an article in the series of articles spreading research and applied knowledge from UEH with the “Research Contribution For All – Nghiên Cứu Vì Cộng Đồng” message, UEH cordially invites readers to watch the next Newsletter ECONOMIC No #103.

News, photos: Author Group, UEH Department of Marketing and Communication

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