Health in the Philippines

Health care in the Philippines varies with private, public and barangay health centers (many in rural municipalities). Most of the national burden of health care is taken up by private health providers.

The Ministry of Health, or the Department of Health, provides national health policies and standards. The provision of health services is overseen by local government units and private sector agencies, both of which are responsible for providing health services to communities. Health services are brought by barangay health units, rural health units, city health offices, municipal or district hospitals, provincial and regional hospitals, and medical centers.

In 2000 the Philippines had about 95,000 physicians, or about 1 per 800 people. In 2001 there were about 1,700 hospitals, of which about 40 percent were government run and 60 percent private, with a total of about 85,000 beds, or about one bed per 900 people. The leading causes of morbidity as of 2002 were diarrhea, bronchitis, pneumonia, influenza, hypertension, tuberculosis, heart disease, malaria, chickenpox, and measles. Cardiovascular diseases account for more than 25 percent of all deaths. According to official estimates, 1,965 cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were reported in 2003, of which 636 had developed acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Other estimates state that there may have been as many as 9,400 people living with HIV/AIDS in 2001.

Expenditures on health in 2002 totaled about USD$2.2 billion, or about 2.9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Government expenditures on health accounted for only about 15 percent of total health expenditures, 30 percent of per capita health expenditures, and about 0.9 percent of all government spending. Per capita health expenditures in 2002 totaled USD$28, of which government spending accounted for USD$8. Both total and per capita expenditures on health have continued to decline since at least 1990, leading to a decrease in the share of GDP attributable to health expenditures. The main cause of this decline has been the high population growth rate. The government share of total spending on health also has declined steadily, and with more people, there has been less to spend per person from both the government and private sectors.

The 1991 Republic Act No 1760, or the Local Government Code, gave local health boards the authority over decisions about the delivery of health services and financial management. In 1995, the National Health Insurance Act led to the implementation of universal health coverage as it was among the first compulsory health insurance systems in developing countries. It established the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation as a form of national health insurance.

In response to the Millennium Development Goals’ focus on maternal and child health, the Philippines began the National Demographic and Health Survey in 1968 to assess the effectiveness of public health programs in the country.

Barriers to healthcare
Poor communities suffer a higher burden of disease due to inequities in access to services and health status. Since financing for local government units often vary and the benefits package for insurance plans may be unfavorable, some communities face difficulties accessing public health services. Shifting the responsibility of healthcare from the federal government to the local governments has increased local authority and has made communities susceptible to lack of access to basic services. In addition, most healthcare payments are made out of pocket, especially when receiving care from privately owned institutions. Barangay health stations serve as primary public health facilities and are staffed by doctors, nurses, midwives, and barangay health volunteers.

Large areas of the Philippines do not have daily access to any pharmaceuticals due to high drug prices. Medicines are supplies account for the largest share of household medical expenses, at 49%, compared to 33% share of bills for hospital stay and 10% for consultation and treatment.

The proposed National Health Budget for 2010 is P28 billion, about US$597 million, or about 310 pesos (US$7) per person in the Philippines. Generic medicines in the Philippines are highly competitive versus branded medicines due to the high out of pocket expenses in the Philippines in terms of value even with the 81% coverage of the country’s healthcare system.

Doctors, nurses, nursing aides, midwives, caregivers, and health administrators can all train for their profession in the Philippines. However, those who migrate to different countries often encounter difficulty practicing outside the Philippines.

There is no requirement in the Philippines for causes of death to be medically determined prior to registration of a death, so national statistics as to causes of death in the Philippines cannot be accurately substantiated. In the provinces, especially in places more remote from registries, births and deaths are often not recorded unless some family need arises, such as entry into college. When there is no legal process needed to pass on inheritance, the recording of deaths is viewed as unnecessary by the family.

Source from Wikipedia