WHO supports PH's passage of measures on Universal Health Care

By Leilani Junio

April 6, 2018, 8:08 pm

MANILA --The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said that it is strongly supporting the passage of legislative measures that will enhance the current universal healthcare coverage system in the country.

In a press briefing held at WHO office in Manila, Dr. Gundo Weiler, WHO Country Representative, said that while the country has made enormous progress in making health services available to its people, there are still still many challenges that it needs to address, such as providing equitable access to health services without financial constraints.

"I believe that legislations will be important for the country. and these measures will certainly, will greatly enhance access to the right level of healthcare for everybody in the country," Weiler said.

Weiler also commended the Philippines for the significant progress the country has achieved the past years, in so far as universal health care services goals were concerned.

"But we also know that every year more than one million people are in risk of being pushed to poverty because of 'extended expenses' to healthcare," he said.

Weiler said that "extended expenses" pertain to the out-of-pocket expenses incurred by patients during hospitalization.

"Universal Healthcare means that people would not have to choose between healthcare and poverty. Its really about enabling access to health care services for everybody everywhere," he added.

The Philippines was one of the first countries to adopt a “Universal Health Care” —locally called “Kalusugang Pangkalahatan”— as a national health policy, back in 2010.

Since then, the national health insurance system has been expanded and now covers over 90 percent of the population, and the Department of Health (DOH) budget for health has increased in the last 12 years.

Indigents and senior citizens' Philhealth coverage fees are subsidized or paid for by the government and fund from it comes from revenues collected under the Sin Tax Law. Indigents also enjoyed the No Balance Billing Policy.

Based on the WHO score card, compared to other countries in the Western Pacific Region, the coverage of some essential services in the Philippines is slightly below the average.

"Based on estimates of the financial burden for health, 1.4 percent of the population incurred high out-of pocket health payments, which suggest gaps in financial protection for health," the WHO report reads.(PNA)