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Speech of Health Secretary Dr. Enrique T. Ona - Wealth for Health Summit

July 31, 2012


Development Academy of the Philippines
Ladies and gentlemen, Good morning!

It is my privilege to address our leaders and representatives from government, non-government organizations, the private sector, and our development partners in today’s activity. I am glad that we meet again with the common goal of addressing the health concerns of our people through improving health financing and health economics. We hope this summit will foster a deeper sense of commitment and more extensive collaboration among all of us that will translate into concrete forward-looking actions for health.

We all came here to stand on common ground. We all aspire to help improve the health of all our people but especially the poor by joining forces for effective partnerships, fully cognizant of our different and various complementary roles. Public-private partnerships are indispensable in our quest for national development in health. The need to foster such arrangement is supported by a clear understanding of the public sector’s inability to provide public goods entirely on its own, in an efficient, effective and equitable manner because of limited resources, among others. Within the health sector, public-private partnerships are often the subject of extremely fueled debates. The Department of Health, I would like to assure you, is tackling this issue head-on.

The private sector, with its unique resources, skills as well as competencies, is an irresistible partner of government for public health initiatives and programs.  Our government has long recognized this mutually synergistic and beneficial arrangement.  Public-private partnerships, therefore, seem both inevitable and essential strategy enunciated very early by the Aquino administration.

“Kalusugan Pangkalahatan” or Universal Health Care is this administration’s strategy, among others, to improve the health of every Filipino, particularly those in the poorest segments of our society, what we call the q1 segment, the poorest 20% of the population who earns P 3,500 to P 4,000 per family per month. KP or our program of universal health care has three strategic thrusts, namely, (1) the expansion in PhilHealth enrollment and of course to improve benefit delivery (I’m sure Dr. Banzon will elaborate more on this later); (2) access to quality health care facilities; and (3) the provision of focused public health services to attain our health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  I’m sure many of you have heard of the so-called demographic dividend. We intend to take advantage of this by improving the health and education of our population.    

We have made significant strides in improving financial risk protection of our people due to diseases. From 62% in 2010, PhilHealth membership today covers 85% of the Filipino population. Of course, that is a figure that is unfortunately not felt at the ground level. And the reason is that more of those enrolled have yet to be informed of their PhilHealth entitlements. This will take some time. The national government has enrolled to PhilHealth the 5.3 million poorest families, comprising almost 25 million Filipinos, identified by the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development since 2011. This year, we have increased the premium subsidy of these families from P 3.5 billion in 2011 to P 12.5 billion, or doubled the premium rate of these families. These families are entitled to no-balance-billing (or walang dagdag bayad) when they are admitted in a ward bed in any government facility.

Last September 2011 we launched the case payment for 23 selected medical and surgical conditions, comprising about 85% of hospital admissions being paid for by PhilHealth today. This new payment mechanism assumes all-in uniform rates for these conditions, speeding up claims processing and encouraging efficiency among our health care providers. In the pipeline is the expansion of the case rates with additional medical conditions and surgical procedures as well as additional benefits, both for in and outpatient cases.

We have rolled out other PhilHealth benefits in the last 6 months. The Primary Care Benefit 1 package covers some primary preventive services, diagnostic tests and medicines for asthma, acute gastroenteritis, and urinary tract infections that may be availed of in rural health units and health centers and other government hospitals. We now have the Animal Bite package that will reduce the need of our rabies victims. Last July 2, we launched the new PhilHealth Z package, which covers the so-called catastrophic diseases, illnesses that wreck havoc among our people’s physical, financial and emotional well-being.

Through innovations in information technology and the introduction of case payments, we are now speeding up claims processing, cutting the turn-around time from 60 days and beyond, to around 45 days at present.

The DOH is also in the process of enhancing and upgrading our health facilities and hospitals to ensure that our people have access to quality health care. The national government has allotted P 13.5 billion for 2013 for the improvement of our national and local government hospitals, rural health units and barangay health stations. I might as well inform you of our upcoming National Hospital Reform Program, wherein we have identified 25 to 30 of our DOH retained hospitals for modernization through PPP. Seven of these hospitals will be upgraded to give specialized care in heart surgery, oncology and organ transplantation, so that patients who will need these services need not come to Manila or Cebu anymore. The DOH and PhilHealth have streamlined the process of licensure and accreditation of hospitals so that more PhilHealth members can avail of their health benefits. The 2012 General Appropriations Act mandates that effective April 1, 2012, all government health care providers, doctors especially,  are deemed accredited by PhilHealth. Within the next two (2) years, PhilHealth will be increasing the number of accredited facilities, practically covering all government facilities to improve access to quality health care.

 Apart from increasing the financial risk protection of our people through PhilHealth and ensuring quality health services through the improvement of health facilities, we are also strengthening our existing public health programs for the attainment of our health related millennium development goals, such as the reduction of maternal, infant and child mortality and morbidity. Currently, we have 22,500 RN Heals nurses and midwives, as well rolled out more than 11,000 community health teams, composed by a nurse or midwife, barangay health workers and barangay nutrition scholars, and hopefully in other areas, led by a physician. They are now rendering selected preventive and promotive health services in Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program communities. To reduce the deaths of our children from severe diarrhea and pneumonia, we included in our national immunization program the rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccination initially for 700,000 infants belonging to the 5.2 million NHTS families, the first country in Southeast Asia to do so. In 2011, we were able to vaccinate 15 out of 18 million Filipino children aged 9 months to below 8 years old from measles and rubella.

In the two years of implementing Kalusugan Pangkalahatan, our gains have been significant to merit some attention of the international community. I was surprised to know that we are now a global inspiration among nations aspiring for universal health coverage.

But the task at hand remains to be daunting. Let me share with you what we in the DOH want to achieve through universal health care by 2016:

 All Filipinos especially poor families will be enrolled in PhilHealth.

 PhilHealth support value will increase from 34% in 2009 to 60%

 Every family will have access and obtain essential, preventive, quality and affordable health services

 Care will be provided in modern public facilities and public hospitals

 Poor families are informed and guided by Community Health Teams for their health needs

Government cannot do this alone. Kalusugan Pangkalahatan will not be realized without your commitment and solid partnership. We ask to you to continue working with us with the same enthusiasm and drive to help uplift the lives of the poorest members of our society and take advantage of the gains that we have already achieved in improving their access to quality health care.

In closing, I would like to thank the organizers of this summit: the, Sanofi-Adventis Philippines, other private partners, the Department of Health, PhilHealth and the 162-52 Coalition, for your efforts and support in coming up with this forum.  I know it takes a lot of hard work to stage a forum of this magnitude but you managed very well.

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss with you our dreams for a healthy Philippines.

Thank you and good morning.