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Philippines to Address Inequities in Health Care Access

The annual Universal Health Care Forum invites public and private stakeholders in Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam to exchange ideas on universal health coverage.

Speakers included government representatives and professionals, such as Phillippines Health Secretary Janette Garin and Dr. Tong Thi Song Huong, Director of Health Insurance Department, Ministry of Health, Vietnam.

It was co-organized by Universitas Indonesia School of Public Health; the Social Security Organizing Body (BPJS), the lead UHC implementor of Indonesia; and the Vietnam Ministry of Health.

Like many large and heavy populated nations, Philippines is facing challenges with regards to healthcare access in rural areas. In addition, the national subsidies from organisations like PhilHealth are insufficient to fund medical care to lower income groups.

Collaboration among stakeholders is seen as a key basis in tackling this issue.

‘’While we have made some headway in reducing inequities in health care access, there are still many gaps and challenges that need to be addressed. All concerned stakeholders must continue to work together in order to make universal healthcare a reality,’’ said PhilHealth president and CEO Alexander A. Padilla after the forum.

Novartis Healthcare Philippines president Dr. Nikolaos Tripodis reinforced the greater goal of healthcare accessibility and sustainability.

‘’We are committed to collaborating with key stakeholders in the Philippines and the region in enhancing access to health services, strengthening health systems and finding innovative and sustainable ways of health financing, ‘’ said Mr Tripodis.

The dialogue is currently in its fourth year. The discussions are built on the learnings from previous years and has resulted in positive contributions amongst nations involved.

The country has improved the wages of nurses which makes the profession more attractive into without having to venture abroad.

According to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) this year, nurses will be paid twice as much compared to their private counterparts under the proposed Salary Standardization Law of 2015.

This is a massive boost to the nation whose citizens are trying to reduce brain drain of their healthcare professionals and facing an ageing population.

The coming years will prove a huge challenge for Philippines and several East Asian nations. As the region faces an ageing population, healthcare resources will be strained.

The World Bank predicts East Asia to lose 15% of their working population and spike demands for health care.

Forums like the UHCF will be key in the region to formulate collaborative policies. It is expected that there will be implementation of major healthcare policy in the coming years. 

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