In congratulating PhilHealth for its achievements, Mr. Dey noted the ambitious, yet realistic, target of truly achieving Universal Health Coverage, as encapsulated by the symposium’s theme: “Bawat Pilipino, Protektado” (Every Filipino, Protected). Among the notable achievements he cited were the: (1) allocation of sin tax revenues for insurance premium payments of the poor; (2) expanded range of PhilHealth benefit packages; and (3) increased share of PhilHealth in the payment of health services.
Given such strides, the EU expressed its appreciation for the opportunity to support PhilHealth, from way back 2007 to the present. This included assistance in costing and design of benefit packages, data management, actuarial analysis, etc.
Much needs to be done however. The main challenge is for the remarkable progress to reach every Filipino. The EU thus cites the remaining gaps in health care: inequality (with indigenous people clearly disadvantaged); out-of-pocket spending that remains rather high; hospital congestion; deficiencies in primary health care. Ultimately, what the Philippine health system needs is for its many parts to be coordinated and optimized, including: financing, procurement, human resource, and strategic information.
Mr. Dey ended EU’s message by echoing the wish for all Filipinos to get the best possible health care without disparity, that “every Filipino will have the same access to high quality, evidence based health care free from discrimination and without running a risk of financial hardship – no matter where they live, whether they are poor, member of an indigenous population, people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, people with mental illness, disability or member of any other minority.”
[The symposium was among the major activities lined up in observance of PhilHealth’s 22nd anniversary celebration, with the theme: Challenged by Change, Empowered by Unity. Supported by the European Union (EU), the activity showcased international experiences in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and provided in-depth discussions on the dimensions of the so-called “UHC Cube,” namely: depth, breadth and height. Presenters included experts provided by the EU who complemented presentations from past and present PhilHealth officers and expert consultants. These experts were Prof. Konrad Obermann, MD, PhD Senior Lecturer MIH Mannheim Institute of Public Health (Heidelberg University) and Mr. Toomas Palu, Regional Practice Manager, The World Bank.
The EU’s support for this PhilHealth event is part of its Philippine Health Sector Reform Contract (PHSRC), a health reform assistance package that spans four years (July 2014 / July 2018). It amounts to EUR 30 million, including EUR 20.5 Million for general support directly channeled to the Philippine treasury, EUR 8 Million in technical assistance, and EUR 1.5 Million for contingencies, evaluation and audit, and communication and visibility activities.]