Palarong Pambansa

DOH in 2017: Focus on universal health coverage, lowering drug prices

Jee Y. Geronimo
DOH in 2017: Focus on universal health coverage, lowering drug prices
Priority programs will also include the annual check-up for the poorest Filipinos, and improving the country's service delivery network

MANILA, Philippines – What will the year ahead be like for the Department of Health (DOH)?

According to Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, the department in 2017 will be focusing on universal health insurance coverage and the lowering of drug prices, among other initiatives.

“We’re focusing on, actually, the 12 legacies of the Duterte administration for the next 6 years, but for this year it’s really focusing on the universal insurance coverage, [and] lowering drug prices by making essential drugs and maintenance drugs available to the poorest Filipinos,” she said in a January 10 interview with Rappler.

Priority programs will also include the annual check-up for the poorest Filipinos, and improving the country’s service delivery network.

At the start of the Duterte administration, the health department aimed to provide 20 million Filipinos with basic check-up which can lead to the early detection of several illnesses.

Early detection will help the government save “much need resources” allotted for the treatment of advance cases.

“By the end of December, we have attained 82% of the 20 million target, so we’re just finishing off the 18% that needs to be reached,” Ubial told Rappler.

The health department also wants to make sure all health facilities in the country – from the provincial hospitals down to the barangay (village) health stations – will “provide the care and services they’re supposed to provide” to give all Filipinos access “to whatever level of care they need.”

In assessing the past 6 months, Ubial gave the health department a “passing mark of 8.” She enumerated what they’ve done so far based on the President’s 3 marching orders:

  1. War on drugs. Doubling of the capacities of treatment and rehabilitation centers, training of frontline health workers to assess patients, and accomplishing manuals and algorithms for the community-based rehabilitation program.
  2. War on corruption. Composition of integrity management program to investigate cases and file the necessary cases against corrupt DOH officials, revision of process when it comes to handling complaints in the department.
  3. War on poverty. Providing 82% of 20 million Filipinos with basic check-up.

“We have our first 200 days report that we’re submitting to Malacañang,” she said.

The health department crafted the Philippine health agenda sometime in September 2016, following Ubial’s official visit to Cuba in August. (READ: What PH can learn from Cuba’s health services) – Rappler.com 

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.