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Leave no one behind for quality healthcare

The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) is an organization that is now at the forefront of research and development in medicines and vaccines for COVID-19 and other health concerns that affect Filipinos.

I’d like to welcome you all to this forum celebrating Universal Health Coverage Day. Every 12th of December, we join the international community in calling for a healthcare system that leaves no one behind.

When it comes to quality healthcare, dapat talaga ay walang maiiwan sa pagsulong ng kalusugang pangkalahatan. [When it comes to quality healthcare, no one should really be left behind.] Why is this important? The continuing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for everyone to have access to quality health services wherever they may be.

Our experience with the pandemic reminds us that a strong health system must be in place if we are to protect our homes, our communities and our country from the devastating impact of a public health emergency.

While COVID-19 is expediting our journey to universal health care, the reason we are investing in health is because all people get sick and face medical emergencies at one point in time. No one is exempted from falling ill, whether they are adults or children, men or women, a young breadwinner, or an elderly person at home.

With this, we can say that health is an imperative for all Filipinos. This fact was reaffirmed by the Social Weather Station Survey, which PHAP commissioned way back in 2010. The survey revealed that eight out of 10 Filipinos expect the government to provide healthcare for all. This survey finding marked the beginning of our advocacy for UHC and it continues until today. While significant progress has been made in recent years, more is to be accomplished to accelerate the momentum towards fully achieving UHC.

What is UHC? UHC helps to ensure that all people can get quality health services without financial hardship. It protects everyone by strengthening the health system pillars, namely, service delivery, health workforce, information, financing, governance, and access to medicines.

PHAP remains to be in a unique position to work with the government, the medical community, patients, and everyone present here today, to ensure our people’s access to medicines. Like all the other pillars, access to medicines requires more and better investments and collaborations. Such investments and collaborations are deeply embedded in the UHC Act and in the National Integrated Cancer Control Act, also known as NICCA.

Access to medicines within the UHC and NICCA frameworks recognize tools such as pooled procurement, framework contracting, multi-year obligations, price negotiations, outpatient drug benefit packages, and public-private partnerships.

PHAP and our members are eager and committed to participate in the implementation of these access to medicines programs and strategies.

In a study by the WHO and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) done in 2018, some 85% of spending on medicines in the Philippines comes from the private sector and mainly out of pocket.

We believe as we have demonstrated during this pandemic period, PHAP can play a vital role in improving access along the UHC and cancer laws’ provisions. As we implement these access-to-medicines strategies, we want to remember that they must also be responsive to actual patient needs.

Together with our partners from the Department of Health (DOH), the Bataan provincial government, the Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center, the BGHMC multi-sectoral governance council, UHC Watch, ThinkWell, the League of Corporate Foundations, the Philippines Graphic and the BusinessMirror, we welcome you to this forum where we will amplify our call to leave no one behind, on UHC day and every day.

We also look forward to hearing from our distinguished resource persons as you lead the way toward full implementation of the UHC at the national and local levels. Maraming salamat at hangad naming na sama-sama tayo sa pagsusulong ng kalusugang pangkalahatan. [Thank you very much and it is our fervent wish that we all work together for universal healthcare.]

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