worldbank.org (July 2022) Reports that one of the most persistent patterns of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s labor market remains the large share of healthy and capable working-age populations excluded from the labor force and employment, particularly among women and youth aged 15 to 24 years not in employment, education, or training (NEET). The lack of inclusivity proves most apparent in the lost potential of women, whose labor force participation, averaging about 20 percent, remains the world’s lowest.
ESCWA (April 2022) Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, social protection systems in the Arab region were weak, fragmented, not inclusive, and non-transparent. They were also costly and unsustainable. Underinvestment in these systems and exclusion of vulnerable populations were key challenges. The COVID-19 crisis spotlighted the problems and presented a historic opportunity to address some of the challenges facing social protection systems. Lessons learned in various countries were identified as useful examples for change, in addition to certain innovations.
arabstates.undp.org (28.12.2021) The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting societies and economies at their core. In the Arab Region, the pandemic has exacerbated existing structural weaknesses in economies as well as unresolved social challenges, making the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) even more urgent. Governments in the region are facing two challenges: to effectively address the health crisis and to respond to the economic and social fallout from the crisis.
UNSDG (July 2020) The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed serious fault lines and vulnerabilities in societies, institutions and economies all around the world. The Arab region, home to 436 million people, initially kept transmission and mortality rates lower than the global average but more recent trends are cause for concern, especially in light of fragmented health care and insufficient primary care in many countries. The pandemic has also magnified many decades-long challenges.
This issue of Policy in Focus gathers articles from leading scholars, researchers and practitioners to discuss these challenges from different perspectives. They examine the current state of non-contributory social protection in the MENA region as a whole and in specific countries and explore how these countries have been coping with and learning from the recent economic and humanitarian crises.
unrisd.org (dec 2017) Prior to the spread of neoliberal policies in the 1980s, the standard arrangement in most of the MENA region was for the state to provide stable employment and extensive social welfare in exchange for acquiescence in the political arena. Although it stifled political dissent and participation, this social contract did bring about real progress in access to health care and education, with formal sector employees benefitting most from state-provided social protection.
We live in a digital world, yet the majority of medical records such as blood test reports or x-rays are stored on paper. Moreover, most hospitals don’t share access to medical records, which is time consuming for doctors when prescribing treatments and inconvenient for patients. Having medical records on the blockchain can have a positive effect on disease management, disease prevention, and minimize unnecessary healthcare expenses. Digital health records will also open up the possibility for cross-border sharing of medical data if a patient is on holidays and requires treatment abroad.