Universal health care program
The Manila Times.Net: Sec. Enrique Ona vows never to let up in working to keep us Filipinos in good health with government’s
This is the prime duty and goal of the government particularly the Department of Health and its secretary, he told The Manila Times.
Ona shared with The Times that Filipinos will keep healthy through the prime program of the government—the Universal Health Care or the Kalusugan Pangkalahatan, program. This aims to provide the highest possible quality of health care that is accessible, efficient, equitably distributed, adequately funded and fairly financed while appropriately used by an informed and empowered public.
The secretary said that through this program, his objectives to ensure the availability, accessibility, affordability and quality of all the necessary health services for all Filipinos—whether rich or poor—can be accomplished.
“This [program] involves providing adequate resources—health human resources, health facilities, and health financing,” he said.
Also Ona said that part of this government program is to provide poor citizens with health insurance through the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
He said that this insurance is a big help for every Filipino to get free health services. He encourages everyone to enrol in PhilHealth.
Global inspiration Here is something few Filipinos realize. As a result of the Pangkalahatang Kalusugan program of Sec. Ona, the Philippines is now one of the global inspirations among nations seeking to attain universal health coverage.
Universal Health Coverage among Filipinos is a reality.
That the Philippines is an inspiration and a model was proved when the health secretary attended the Prince Mahidol Award Conference 2012 entitled “Moving Towards Universal Health Coverage: Health Financing Matters” held in Bangkok, Thailand last January.
Sec. Ona said that the health reform efforts in the country, particularly the targeting of the poorest Filipino families to be provided with essential health care and social services, received many plaudits from other countries during the conference, which was attended by 800 health sector professionals in the financing, policy, and public-health fields. The conference was also attended by experts and program implementers from over 81 countries who discussed the latest developments and innovations in health care financing and charted plans for global cooperation to address the common aim of universal health coverage.
“Enrolment of the 5.2 poorest Filipino families identified by the DSWD’s [Department of Social Welfare and Development] National Household Targeting System, the intensive information drive done to empower members to avail of PhilHealth benefits, and the rolling out of the Case Rates scheme and the No-Balance Billing Policy for indigent members last year are noteworthy achievements that have received international acclaim,” Ona said.
During that international conference our country and the the Health Chief himself received plaudits from the global community because of our government’s implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer program to leverage better health seeking behaviors, the deployment of over 21,000 nurses and 16,000 community health teams to far flung areas, and the introduction of Rotavirus and Pneuomococcal vaccines in the National Immunization Program.
“The Philippines vows to achieve universal health coverage or 100 percent coverage of the population in the National Health Insurance Program in two years time,” said Ona to emphasize the lofty targets set by the Aquino administration.
In addition, the secretary also committed to improving the support value of PhilHealth, which currently stands at 34 percent to 60- 70 percent by 2016, and increasing health expenditure from 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. He saud this will be done through the more efficient implementation of the Case Rate Schemes and through the rolling out of PhilHealth’s Catastrophic Illness Package.
The Health Chief is aware of the daunting task facing the health sector but believes that it can be done.
“Political commitment from all stakeholders especially the private sector is essential for the success of efforts to achieve universal coverage,” the secretary said.
Enhancements of health facilities, hospitals For even higher quality health services, Sec. Ona also pushes the further fast-tracking of the implementation of the Health Facilities Enhancement Program. This aims to upgrade the infrastructure and equipment of government health facilities—clinics and hospitals mainly— across the country.
“Funds for the facility upgrades have been released to the department and we have much work that still lies ahead of us,” said the Health chief. “We redouble our efforts to complete these facility enhancements as every government facility upgraded will lead to that many more Filipinos with health needs being served in an appropriate and timely manner.”
The Health Chief said that the upgrading and rehabilitation of public health facilities is also part of the agency project in providing Universal Health Care.
He added that special emphasis is given to the poorest Filipino families. Areas with the highest counts of poor Filipino families are priority sites for health facility improvements.
“These upgraded facilities will thus bring quality healthcare and health services closer to the most vulnerable sectors of our population,” Ona stressed.
Currently the agency is financing some 1,559 infrastructure and 280 equipment assistance projects in government health facilities, health centers, rural health units, district hospitals, provincial hospitals and city hospitals and DOH retained hospital across the country.
“The sooner these enhancement projects are completed, the sooner will our countrymen be able to enjoy easy access to quality healthcare, attain good health and reap its attendant benefits . . . all part of the major goals along the road towards achieving Kalusugan Pangkalahatan or Universal Health Care,” he stressed.
‘Health care is the responsibility of all’ Ona said that besides the government, everybody should also be responsible for their health.
The health chief emphasizes the role of each Filipino in creating a healthier Philippines.
“Each and every one of should be conscious of health. We should actively get information on PhilHealth and other health services and to regularly visit health centers and rural health units to avail of vaccination and free consultations for us and our family members. After all, we are in charge of our own health” Ona said.
The secretary said that the DOH projects such as the immunization program Iligtas sa Tigdas and Pinas, the mobile clinic Health Fiesta Caravan, the deployment of nurses in RN Heals, its support for natural family planning, and other new programs such as his hard fight against the use of tobacco are there to help the Filipinos to become more responsible for their health.