Monday, May 3, 2010

THE BLOG ROUNDS V.2 Ed.1: Implementing The Universal Health Care System In The Philippines

For this edition of the newly-revived The Blog Rounds (yipes, this is a super-late submission, I know), we are to discuss if the Philippines is ready for a universal health care system.

This is a very tough theme to tackle. Health issues in the Philippines are never too easy to discuss, and the applicability of the universal health care system in our country is no exception. Some of you who have read my previous posts are familiar with my disillusion as far as health provision is concerned, my partiality to the ideals of community medicine, and my thoughts on issues such as the Morong 43. The topic of the universal health care system as being applicable in the local setting definitely challenged my understanding of the matter and my analytical capabilities.

Apparently left to our own devices. Community health workers in action, circa 1990s, Mindoro.

The issues for and against the universal health care system (a general definition can be read here) are discussed in a lot of venues. Health groups in various parts of the United States are pushing for the implementation of universal health care (links here and here), with the present US health care system addressing only selected population groups and failing to provide for the general population. There is likewise a collection of links that discuss the demerits of this system (click here).

The Philippines can definitely benefit from the universal health care system. The current health system (or the absence of it) does not provide for the majority of the population. (What does one expect from a 1:800 doctor to patient ratio anyway?) Many Filipinos may not be able to see a doctor in their lifetime (this is no exaggeration), and if they are lucky, they may be beneficiaries of medical missions that come by on an occasional basis. Only very few have access to hospitals with top-notch facilities since admission deposits in regular rooms of these hospitals run to 5 figures. Want to know the minimum wage of the average Filipino worker? Not even a fraction. Find out here.

However, financing the system will always been the biggest obstacle in considering the implementation of the universal health system, given the rampant bureaucracy and corruption in the government and the society. Some ideal solutions are as follows. The government, for one, can increase the budget percentage allotted to health care. Health expenditure accounts for a measly 2.9% of the gross domestic product. Maximizing the role of PhilHealth may help, as many Filipinos do not have PhilHealth. Additional taxation and borrowing are other less palatable-sounding options but are likewise worth considering. Of course, all are easier said than done ... but one has to start somewhere.

Among the presidential candidates, Noynoy Aquino and Gibo Teodoro are vocal about their desire to implement the universal health care system. (Read here and here.) I am not out to blatantly endorse anyone, but wouldn't it be nice to see, within our lifetime, someone who will step forward and provide concrete solutions to the unhealthy state of affairs of the Philippine health care system, whether that be the implementation of the universal health care system or not?
This is my submission to The Blog Rounds v.2 ed.1, hosted by Dr. Prudence. Yes I am late, so shoot me, hahahah!


may said...

It's absolutely a very challenging goal. But, why not? I'm so for it even if it would cost us a little more.

The Last Song Syndrome said...

hey may,

thank you for dropping by. it makes sense to implement the more developed nations, they are laden with taxes but at least people see where most of their taxes go^^i guess neanderthal pa rin tayo, hehehe. it would be interesting to read what my colleagues have to say about this (if ever they find the time to post, that is :) )