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Philippine Council for Health Research and Development @ 31 “People at the Centre of Health and Health Research”

March 18, 2013

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel, Manila

Greetings (VIPs)

Let me congratulate the officers and members of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) for three meaningful decades of dedicated  work in health research, for leading and sustaining the drive for conductingresearch in the country,  so that the challenge  of searching  for answers  to health  system issues and health care needs of  the Filipino people,particularly the less privileged does not lose its momentum. In this regard the Department of Healthsalutes PCHRD’s drive to pursue research. 

The Aquino administration places a high premium on health.  Acknowledging that healthcare remains to be elusive to a significant part of the population, the Universal Health Care or Kalusugan Pangkalahatan (KP)was formulated and supported to address the issue of inequity in health. 

And true to the President’s commitment, KP had made great strides during the past two and a half years. 

With our health sector being afforded this much-needed shot in the arm and building on our gains in implementing KalusuganPangkalahatan, we are challenged with this unique opportunity to establish the directions for ensuring the sustainability of universal health care in the Philippines.

Evidence must guide us in charting the continuing reforms for universal health care. Evidence is crucial in sound policy making and implementation. At the same time, we can learn from the experiences of other health systems undergoing reform processes similar to ours. Best practices of other countries can be modified and carefully implemented, while their pitfalls must be avoided. As a relative “latecomer” compared to some countries such as Mexico or Thailand, we have the advantage of learning from their experiences and avoiding their difficulties, taking into consideration our unique economic, social and political environment.

As we move forward, strong health policy research is imperative in answering policy questions that will inevitably come up in our journey towards universal health care.  Let me share with you some policy concerns the health sector needs to face.

 In 2012, PCHRD partnered with us in the Health Systems Research Management(HSRM)  project, with the aim of engaging  more research efforts  for health,  further capacitating DOH in research.  Now, not only can we be assured  that funds for research are utilized appropriately, we can actually make use of their  timely  results and sustain the project bybuilding capacitieswithin the sector.The DOH was able to implementonly 12 out of 187 research proposals in our research agenda for 2005-2010.But now, with the current HSRM project, we expect about 40-60 research projects to becompleted with the resultsready for use by the end of the year.  And happily,the Health System Research Management has identified a new set of young research enthusiasts - the 30 Policy,Planning, Research and Legislative (PPRL) Fellows, all of whom couldfurther enhanceour research output in generating more dynamic and relevant research for health.

The partnership between the PCHRD andthe DOH extends deeper than the 60 researchefforts to be implemented.  We have established the Health Research Hub, chaired by Dr. Ernesto Domingo, as an initial step in executing our research and policy agenda. This research hub will harmonize our research resources, maximize the use of funds, ensure that research results are put to good use and translated into policies and programs for implementing KalusuganPangkalahatan. With the able leadership of Dr. Ernesto Domingo,we are confident that, the Research Reference Hub-Executive Board will be able to aidthe Department of Health in addressing specific concerns for healthand make sound, viable and evidence-based recommendationsthat could help achieve our health objectives.

With our plan to allocate2% of the national health budgetfor research, we expect more studies to go on board.  More good news is that our country, through partnerships and sharing of strengths, is working towards this invaluablegoal.We have allocated P 200 million for research for the enxt two years. The best is indeed yet to come, and with our solid partnership with the PCHRD, we can count on health research to be a   catalyst to the attainment of the objectives of KalusuganPangkalahatan.

Evidence-based policy making, rooted in sound health policy research is critical in sustaining our gains under KalusuganPangkalahatan. Let us strengthen the culture of policy research in the health sector and ensure the generation of effective policies and programs that will significantly uplift the health of our people.

More power!  Congratulations!