VOA News/Lisa Schlein

The International Labor Organization (ILO) says urgent action is needed to avert a global crisis as the number of people, including children and elderly, needing care rises, The warning is part of a new ILO report on care work and care jobs unveiled Thursday in Geneva.

The ILO cautions that the global care crisis will become a reality in coming years without a doubling of investment. Authors of the report say $5.5 trillion was spent in 2015 on education, health and social work. They say that amount must be increased to $18.4 trillion by 2030 to prevent the care system from falling apart.

The report finds the majority of care globally is done by unpaid caregivers, mostly women and girls, and that it is a major barrier preventing women from getting paid jobs. It says this reality not only hampers their economic opportunities, but stifles development prospects.

Lead author Laura Addati tells VOA 606 million women, compared to 41 million men, are unable to get paid employment because they have to care for a family member.

“This pool of participants who are lost to the labor force could be activated, … [put in] jobs that could benefit society. A part of these jobs could be career [caregiver] jobs, so as we well pointed out, there could be basically an activation process to sort of replace some of those jobs, so making those who were unpaid, paid care workers,” she said.

Addati says more people nowadays are part of nuclear families, eroding the concept of extended households, which used to play an important role in caring for family members. She says that is increasing the demand for more caregivers in smaller households.

The report finds that more than 380 million people globally are care workers. It says two-thirds are women. In Europe, the Americas and Central Asia, three-quarters of all care workers are women. The report notes long-term care services are practically non-existent in most African, Latin American and Asian countries.

The ILO says about 269 million jobs could be created if investment in education, health and social work were doubled by 2030, easing the global care crisis.