DOH: Enough health workers for UHC implementation

The Department of Health (DOH) assured on Monday that there are enough health workers to carry out all health care services for the full implementation of the newly-approved Universal Health Care (UHC) law.

Health undersecretary Mario Villaverde said at the UCH forum in Malate that the agency already has a human resources management plan, which would ensure the equal distribution of health workers and the creation of additional human resources for health.

“The law is clear when it comes to government scholarship programs, and I think there is already a start up here, the DOH is implementing a medical doctors’ scholarship program. And, we’ll be linking all scholarship programs to deploy all necessary human resources for health,” he said.

Villaverde added that there are existing programs for the deployment of doctors, midwives, and nurses.

Citing the goal of DOH to produce specialists and primary health care workers at the same time, Villaverde said they are looking into “linking allied health professionals who could provide big help to provincial hospitals”.

“We have started discussing this with the Philippine College of Family Physicians because the law is very clear that in the next 10 years we need to strengthen primary care,” he added.

Health Justice project manager Ralph Degollacion, one of the forum panelists, said the government must ensure that people in the communities know their rights, as stated in the UHC law.

“We need to empower the communities, as health is every person’s right,” he said.

Degollacion added that there is a need for a multi-sectoral action to address any challenge with regard to UHC implementation.

Meanwhile, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) executive vice president Ruben Basa, another panelist, said PhilHealth has adequate funds for the initial implementation of UHC but it needs additional fund sources for its continuous implementation.

“We’re still lobbying for Congress to pass additional sin taxes revenues. We need to monitor and have an aggressive monitoring mechanism that will allow us to tweak and revise our provider payment mechanism and how we finance our primary health care packages,” he said.

In his speech, World Health Organization Regional Director for the Western Pacific Takeshi Kasai said the UHC law is a critical step in achieving healthy Filipinos for the prosperous future of the entire country.

“It is a political choice in favor of healthier, more equitable and more productive society. It is a choice to invest in the future, and to impress the word care instead of coverage. The WHO is here to support the Philippines in any way we can,” he added. (By Ma. Teresa Montemayor, PNA | Photo by Jello Tabago)

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