THE Philippine Health Agenda 2016-2022 disclosed three persistent problems in our healthcare system and three guaranteed resolutions to these problems.
First, let us review the three persistent problems: persistent inequities in healthcare outcomes (Piho); restrictive and poverty-driving healthcare costs (RPHC); and poor quality and undignified care in public healthcare institutions (PQUC).
The Piho problems evidently center on pregnant mothers and newborns. Reportedly around 2,000 mothers die annually due to complications in pregnancy. Moreover, three out of 10 Filipino children are stunted, while Filipino children of the poorest families are thrice more likely to die before age five compared to those born to the richest Filipino families.
Conversely, the RPHC issues involved the annual descent of 1.5 million Filipino families into poverty driven by high healthcare expenditures. In fact, a healthcare expense of P5,000 monthly is considered catastrophic for single income families. Consequently, Filipinos either forego or delay health care services due to prohibitive costs and unpredictable fees and co-payments.
Meanwhile, the PQUC problems include long wait times in public healthcare institutions (PHI), limited autonomy for Filipinos in choosing their PHI, less hygienic restrooms with inadequate amenities, lack of privacy and confidentiality, poor record-keeping, and overcrowding and under-delivery of healthcare. These are realities that reflect the state of our PHI wherever you look at them anywhere in the country.
To resolve these three persistent healthcare problems among us, the current administration guarantees three actions.
First, the government guarantees that healthcare services will be effectively provided for all life stages and triple burden of disease, such as communicable diseases (e.g. HIV/Aids and tuberculosis), non-communicable diseases (i.e. cancer, diabetes and heart disease) and malnutrition, and urbanization and industrialization-driven diseases (e.g. physical injury, substance abuse and mental illness).
Second, healthcare delivery must be fully functional, compliant to practice guidelines, available 24/7, gatekeeping, close to the people and telemedicine enhanced.
Third, universal and predominant coverage by PhilHealth, which include no balance billing, fixed co-payment even in non-basic accommodations, and expanded and comprehensive service range.
Many of these proposals have been initiated already in previous administrations. Thus, it is good to know that these positive measures are continued. Nevertheless, it is to the Filipinos’ interest to hope that these “guarantees” will be lived up in reality by 2022.