Equity in Health and the New Normal: The Philippine Universal Health Care Law

Ernesto O Domingo, Ramon Pedro P. Paterno, Fely Marilyn E. Lorenzo, Cecilia S. Acuin, Fernando B. Garcia, Jr., Emerito Jose A. Faraon, Anthony Rosendo G. Faraon, Alvin B. Marcelo, Juan Antonio A. Perez, Ricardo Ramos, Ma. Esmeralda Silva



The Philippine Universal Health Care (UHC) Law, consistent with the WHO’s Primary Health Care (PHC) Declaration (1978, 2008, and 2018) strives to achieve Equity in Health and Health for all Filipinos by ensuring universal access to health care within a New Normal that ensures inclusive growth. While the series of PHC declarations address gross health inequities among nations; our UHC Law addresses health inequities within our nation. Fifty per cent of Filipinos, who die, continue to die without health professional attendance. Our health outcomes are improving but lag behind those of our ASEAN neighbors. We continue to face what the Department of Health (DOH) describes as the triple burden of disease. Our health inequities persist within a socio-economic context of non-inclusive growth. To address these inequities in health, we need to work for a new normal that would ensure inclusive growth. In health, we need to implement the UHC law based on the philosophy and principles of PHC. There have been initial advances in the implementation of UHC. To accelerate it further, the UHC SG recommended the prioritization of the establishment of an interoperable, real time national health information system to guide governance, human resource for health (HRH) production, deployment and distribution, the provision of medicines and technology, and health financing. In addition to health systems reform, we need to shock and awe the Filipino people with a comprehensive primary care benefit package that can be actually utilized by the poor, generate popular support for UHC, and have significant impact on decreasing Out- of-Pocket health expenditures. To achieve Health for All Filipinos and Equity in Health, we need to ensure universal access to quality health care (UHC) within a new normal that leads to inclusive growth.