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32nd Annual National Convention and Exhibition of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAP)

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DATE: 
November 21, 2011

Theme:  “Universal Health Care Coverage (UHC): Center of Piece of Wellness without Boundaries
Century Park Hotel 

VIPs.

Good morning!

It’s is my pleasure to be here today at the 32nd Annual National Convention and Exhibition of the Private Hospitals Association Of The Philippines, Inc. (PHAP). Indeed, this event is a testament to your commitment to promoting public welfare through the development of excellent and professional hospital care for the people.

We at the Department of Health are very pleased to see the theme you have all chosen for this year’s convention – Universal Healthcare Coverage: Center Piece of Wellness without Boundaries. This reflects the serious support you are giving towards the realization of our goal of Kalusugan Pangkalahatan, as one of the major stakeholders in the health sector. As you may all very well know, Kalusugan Pangkalahatan or KP is the Aquino administration’s response to the challenge of providing access to quality health services for all Filipinos especially the poor.

 You see, at the beginning of the Aquino administration, studies have shown that some 12.6 million Filipino families were not enrolled in PhilHealth. What’s staggering is that some two-thirds of these belonged to the poorest segment of our population. There were those who were enrolled, of course, but of that population, only about 100,000 families were able to seek appropriate care for and claim the benefits to which they were entitled. 6.8 million families – half of whom were poor – failed to avail of professional health care when a family member fell ill either due to a lack of resources or a lack of access to proper health facilities. In addition to this, almost 70 percent of households had mothers who had not completed four antenatal care visits, or did not deliver in facilities, and had children that were not fully immunized. All these show what we have been saying all this time: our poorest countrymen were not receiving quality health care services.  

Those were the conditions that signaled the need for and so subsequently led to the birth of Kalusugan Pangkalahatan and its three strategic thrusts of 1) financial risk protection through expansion of the National Health Insurance Program coverage and benefit delivery, 2) health facilities enhancement to improve access to quality care and 3) a focused and scaled up public health effort to attain our health-related Millennium Development Goals. This past year, we have been working feverishly to see KP to fruition and we have seen our share of successes and challenges in attaining equitable access to quality healthcare for all Filipinos.

On the front of financial risk protection, we have been able to enroll 5.2 million families identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s National Household Targeting System – Poverty Reduction as the poorest through National Government subsidies. These are the same families that have been left out in the past.

In September of this year, the new Case Rates Scheme of PhilHealth was implemented, providing all-in packages for 23 of the most common illnesses and procedures Filipinos encounter. This case rates scheme aims to simplify payments for these common conditions in order to reduce out-of-pocket expenditures from PhilHealth members. But more importantly, this scheme allows the implementation of the no balance billing or walang dagdag bayad for our poorest countrymen enrolled in PhilHealth’s Sponsored Program when they seek care in government hospitals. I recognize that this Case Rates Scheme is a new development and as such may still see the need for some fine tuning. We understand the concerns and we are taking the necessary measures to address them. A study to determine reasonable professional fees of physicians is ongoing. This is important because it will help PhilHealth in setting up guidelines for professional fees for doctors and health facilities which does not undervalue their expertise and recognizes their role in provision of quality health care. As I like to say, we are not perfect and nor will we ever be, but what I can promise is that for this, we will be fair. We are taking into account and protecting the best interests of all concerned parties.

Also in the works is a Catastrophic Care Package which aims to provide appropriate assistance to families who have members that contract such devastating illnesses as cancer, acute cardiac events, end-stage renal disease and the like.

Across the country, great efforts are being put into the enhancement of health facilities such as our Barangay Health Stations, Rural Health Units, and district and provincial hospitals. Substantial amount of funds have been allotted for this initiative because we know the importance of government health facilities to the health and well-being of our poor countrymen. These enhancements will bring quality care closer to the communities that these health facilities serve.

Improving our hospitals is a monumental task, and we realize that the DOH cannot support and sustain all our efforts in this matter. Fortunately, we have found partners in the private sector who are willing to lend their helping hands in our endeavor. We have seen some success in this area and hope to forge more Public-Private Partnerships or PPPs for the enhancement of DOH Hospitals. Through these PPPs, we are able to benefit from private capital, expertise, efficiency and economy, all harnessed for improving health services. Such is our success and capabilities in this area that the Philippines was chosen by the United Nations Economic Council for Europe to be the site of its International Specialist Center for PPP in Health. We have already set up a PPP Unit in the Department to provide assistance to government facilities who wish to enter into PPPs. Needless to say, the DOH is ready for PPPs and the invitation is open to all of you to take part in this endeavor.

Ladies and gentlemen, my vision of an ideal DOH Hospital is a hospital that is government owned, non-profit, fiscally autonomous and governed by a board with private sector participation where earnings generated by the hospital are retained and ploughed back into the improvement of facilities, purchase of equipment and used to fund other mechanisms to improve health service delivery. I am happy to tell you that we are starting to the institute the necessary changes to realize this vision.

Our efforts in providing access to quality health care goes beyond the improvement of infrastructure. We are providing DOH Complete Treatment Packs to health centers of over 1,000 of the poorest municipalities to ensure access to quality medicines for infections and some non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. We have also hired some 10,000 nurses through our RNheals program in an effort to capacitate the abilities of communities to provide healthcare to their members. We will be continuing this program and aim to hire another 11,500 nurses for deployment in DOH hospitals and other far flung communities. The DOH will also be expanding its Doctors to the Barrios program next year, allowing us to hire and deploy more physicians to areas most in need of doctors.

To attain our health-related Millennium Development Goals or MDGs, we have employed the strategy of having Community Health Teams. Community Health Teams or CHTs which will be composed of midwives, brangay health workers and other health workers and volunteers and will be tasked with working directly with the poorest families, bringing them public health messages, assisting them in determining their health needs and navigating the ins and outs of availing their PhilHealth benefits. Our ultimate goal is to have 100,000 CHTs deployed in communities throughout the country, helping to improve the health situations of all Filipino families.

The Philippines is on its way to a turning point in health care delivery.  I recognize the necessity of both a strong government and a strong private sector. We are fortunate that our country has much strength to promote good governance through the participation and partnership of private sector health professionals, especially in the matter of infrastructure development and capability upgrading of hospitals and health facilities. We are very much encouraged to see that we have PHAP’s support in our endeavor to provide quality healthcare for all Filipinos. While we have made substantial gains, we have also encountered several difficulties, but these should not be barriers in the active pursuit of the highest level of service and quality care for our patients,nor should we lose the momentum gained nor stumble on the steps we have taken thus far in reaching our goal of Kalusugan Pangkalahatan.  

On this note, allow me then to congratulate you on this, your 32nd Annual National Convention, which is dedicated to Universal Health Care. And as we are all stakeholders in the future and continued health of all Filipinos, allow me also to wish us all good luck in our efforts to achieve Kalusugan Pangkalahatan.

Thank you and good morning.