‘Kalusugan natin, segurado’ means that no Filipino will ever be financially afraid of getting sick
Joint Learning Network member Dr. Eduardo Banzon recently published an Opinion Editorial on PhilHealth's commitment to providing affordable, comprehensive, and quality health care. This editorial was published on Tuesday, May 15 in the Business Mirror.
An excerpt from Dr. Banzon's editorial is posted below:
KALUSUGAN natin, segurado means that no Filipino will ever be financially afraid of getting sick, and that no one is left behind in the race toward universal health care and financial-risk protection.
Health care has made large advances in the Philippines over the years. Medical care in selected hospitals is now comparable with the top medical centers in the world. Yearly, around 1,500 new physicians are licensed—expanding the number of available physicians for Filipinos. With competition between manufacturing firms firmly taking hold, prices of key drugs have dropped significantly over the last six years.
Yet with all these gains, these questions still remain—Why do majority of Filipinos still die without medical attendance?; have difficulty accessing health facilities?; receive substandard care from hospitals?; remain unable to buy medicines, let alone complete the prescribed treatment regimen?
The National Demographic Health Survey of 2008 looked into factors that affect various health indicators. The majority of the population belonging to lower socioeconomic strata, with less access to education or information, always lag behind their richer, or less poor counterparts. To illustrate, the mortality rate for children under five years of age for the poorest quintile is 59 per thousand births, and 17 for the richest quintile. Home births are more prevalent in the rural areas and among the poorest quintile. Caesarean-section rates for poorest quintile is around 1 percent—at least 21 times less compared to the richest—signaling lack of access to comprehensive obstetric care by the poor.
Apparently, gains in health access and status were earned mostly by those who could afford, those who could pay.
What led to this inequity in health? A substantial part could be traced to health-financing inefficiencies, and underestimation of politics of health, both of which contributed to the creation of silos among payors, providers, suppliers and regulators of health care—each moving independently of the other, rather than as part of a bigger whole.
As the major purchaser of health-care goods and services in the country, PhilHealth needs to and will leverage its purchasing power to help break these silos and foster increased collaboration. We will use “Performance Commitment” contracts to ensure that health facilities are safe and high quality. There will be incentives to ensure that health human resource is adequate in number, purposely distributed and properly compensated. We will negotiate for lower costs and charges of health-care goods and services.