PPPs seen to support universal healthcare

Czeriza Valencia - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The public-private partnership (PPP) scheme can be a viable option for expanding the provision of healthcare services alongside the implementation of the newly-enacted Universal Healthcare (UHC) Act, according to the PPP Center. 

During a forum held recently in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), PPP and health officials said the law provides more opportunities to expand their market and introduce innovation in their services.

The UHC law mandates the automatic enrollment of all Filipinos into the National Healthcare Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), as either direct or indirect contributors.

The state-run health insurer will now cover check-ups, laboratory tests and basic maintenance medicines along with other benefits previously provided.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the law also challenges healthcare providers to be creative in developing solutions that enhance value for customers.

“The role of the private sector in the universal health care cannot be overemphasized,” he said. “The UHC Act provides more opportunities for the private sector to expand their market reach and challenge their creativity in developing value enhancing solutions.”

PPP Center executive director Ferdinand Pecson said the agency could support their agencies implementing the law in pursuing PPP projects and in learning how PPPs could be a viable option in attaining the objectives of the UHC law.

“It is about regulating it properly such that the goals of universal healthcare are achieved,” he said.

The center, which is now focused on implementing PPP projects that directly affect communities, provides technical assistance in the development and preparation of viable PPP projects.

Through the revolving Project Development and Monitoring Facility (PDMF), it can fund the conduct of feasibility studies and building of business cases.

The PPP Center is currently providing technical assistance to the Department of Health, through the DOH- Public-Private Partnership for Health–Project Management Unit, for the development of hemodialysis centers in Baguio General Hospital and Cagayan Valley Medical Center.

Likewise, it is providing funding support for a feasibility study to the University of the Philippines (UP) for the proposed operations and maintenance of a branch of Philippine General Hospital in UP Diliman.

The forum, themed “Fostering Universal Health Care through PPPs,” gathered representatives from national government agencies, local government units, hospitals, health sector representatives, legislators and development partners.

Further consultations with the public are expected to be held in line with the increased potential for private sector participation in the implementation of the UHC Act.

In his remarks, Diwakar Gupta, ADB vice president for private sector and cofinancing operations, acknowledged the improved legal and regulatory framework for PPPs in the country, making it a dynamic PPP market in the region.

“The Philippines has strengthened the legal, regulatory, and institutional framework, as well as the underlying financial support structure to the degree that the country now scores high (seventh position) in the global ranking of PPP readiness, joining countries like Japan or Korea,” he said.

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