GENEVA – World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, congratulated the Philippine government for legislating Republic Act (RA) 11223, better known as the “Universal Health Care Act”.

In his letter addressed to President Rodrigo R. Duterte, dated last March 4, WHO head hailed the passage of the UHC law as a demonstration of “strong political commitment to deliver health for the peoples of the Republic of the Philippines.”

Through the passage of this law, Duterte has set “an example of how leadership at the highest level can advance universal health coverage,” Ghebreyesus said.

He further cited the broad support of the Philippine Congress for the bill, which testifies “to the impressive political commitment of the country to ensuring all its citizens can access quality health services without risking financial hardship.”

Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, Ambassador Evan P. Garcia, noted that the Universal Health Care Act is just the latest in a series of public health-focused legislative and executive actions of the Duterte administration.

Since 2017, the Philippines has passed a legislation to: impose excise taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and maintaining a unitary tax on tobacco products, both under RA 10963 TRAIN law (Dec. 19, 2017); RA 11036, the Philippine Mental Health Care Act (June, 20, 2018); RA 11166 the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act of 2018 (Dec. 20, 2018); Executive Order (EO) 26 on “Providing for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed places” (May 16, 2017); and EO 12 entitled Attaining and Sustaining “Zero Unmet Need for Modern Family Planning” (Jan. 9, 2017).

The Philippines’ implementation of the UHC, which intends to provide health insurance coverage for all Filipinos, promises to have a sweeping positive impact on the health and welfare of the Filipino people.

The implementing rules and regulations of RA 11223 is being crafted and is intended for rollout before the end of 2019.

With UHC, the Philippines is well on its way to attaining the health goals of Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and AmBisyon Natin 2040. (PR)