Universal Health Care in the Philippines?
Posted by butalidnl on 25 March 2010
Universal health care in the Philippines? Well, probably not right away. But we could work on it a little. I was thinking more in terms of providing a basic publicly funded health service for most of the population, at affordable prices.
A basic ingredient to this health service is to provide health care professionals all throughout the country, especially in the countryside. A key to doing this, I think, will be to make sure that there are enough doctors who will stay put in the countryside posts that they will be assigned to. Then, it will be an easier task to make sure that urban public hospitals are well staffed.
The emphasis should be on doctors, since nurses are in abundance these days, at least in the cities. I propose that the government take care of the education of a certain percentage of doctors that the country produces. Let 10% of medical students be government funded. The government will pay for most of their education (leaving perhaps PhP 20,000/year as student contribution, and covering the remaining PhP 100,000/year tuition), and in return, the doctors are required to spend 5 years in a rural posting, with the option to stay on, on a government salary.
A result of this would be that in a matter of 5 years or so, the country will have a steady supply of rural doctors ready to be assigned anywhere in the country. And that they will not have a need to charge high fees even when they are released from government service, since they didn’t spend so much to study medicine.
The funding for health services would come from the IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) that local governments receive. LGUs receive these funds automatically; and it was sort of understood that in turn they would provide certain services to their constituents. However, many of them aren’t. I think the national government should pass a law requiring all municipalities to provide public health facilities – e.g. clinics staffed with doctors, nurses and midwives, and enough medicines and other supplies.
And lastly, I think the government should set up public pharmacies in all towns; so as to service the needs of the far-flung rural population. These pharmacies should make available generic drugs where possible, and branded drugs that have been discounted.
With these things in place, we may not yet have universal health care, but we sure would be well on our way to providing it.