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Mauritius Heads into the Pandemic on a Stronger Footing

The country’s entrenched social protection culture meant that government promptly acted to minimise job losses from the 2008 global financial crisis. Its welfare system enabled timely policy responses, helping minimise the socio-economic impact of the crisis. Mauritians benefit from universal and free health coverage, free education from the age of five, free higher education, an unemployment benefit scheme that embeds provisions for informal labour, a minimum wage (US$258 per month), a 13th month salary, a range of social assistance schemes for the most vulnerable and a universal pension scheme (US$228 per month). The latest available data shows that Mauritius allocated 9.3% of its GDP to social protection measures. The average across sub-Saharan Africa is 4.5%. Only South Africa, Botswana, Djibouti and Lesotho spent more than 6% of GDP on social protection. With 3.4 hospital beds per 1,000 population, Mauritius is better equipped than the UK (2.8 beds per 1,000 population) and this contrasts with the sub-Saharan Africa average of 1.2 beds per 1,000 population. The fight against Ebola and HIV/AIDS enabled some countries to accumulate valuable expertise in containing the spread of contagious diseases.