Unilab Center for Health Policy launched to help bridge healthcare system gaps in Philippines

Unilab Foundation president Clinton Campos Hess, led the launch of the Unilab Center for Health Policy (UCHP), a platform for government policymakers and healthcare providers, the private sector and stakeholders, to discuss, distill and dissect health policy issues.

MANILA, Philippines — Unilab Foundation (ULF) launched the Unilab Center for Health Policy (UCHP), a venue for stakeholders to examine health policy issues.

“UCHP is intended to provide a platform for policy makers, the private sector, implementors and other concerned stakeholders—at the national and local levels—to discuss, distill and dissect health policy issues,” Unilab Foundation president Clinton Campos Hess said.

With a fragmented healthcare landscape, the Philippines grapples with obstacles on uplifting marginalized Filipinos. Out-of-pocket expenses, uneven distribution of human resources, and limited access are among the persistent challenges that the newly established UCHP aims to tackle.

Recognizing the monumental task of achieving universal health care, UCHP emphasizes a collective responsibility shared by the government and private sectors.

“UCHP does not presume that it can help solve all the issues at hand. It is a modest attempt to bring together like-minded individuals and institutions desirous of nourishing our nation’s health care system. It is premised on government and the private sector working together,” Campos Hess explained.

“UCHP seeks to spawn ideas anchored on research and grounded on experience. Such an approach will help forge the appropriate interventions to the exigent health concerns of access, equity, quality, service delivery, UHC implementation, and the interphase of health with technology,” he added.

Department of Health Assistant Secretary Leonita Gorgolon (center) with Clinton Campos Hess (left), president of Unilab Foundation and Mariano John Tan, vice president of Unilab Foundation, during the launch of the Unilab Center for Health Policy.
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UCHP has an Advisory Council, which will aid in crafting policy agendas and in ensuring the meticulous oversight of project implementation. It is chaired by former Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Enrique Ona and includes Philippine Medical Association president, Dr. Maria Minerva Calimag, former University of the Philippines School of Economics dean, Dr. Orville Jose Solon, former DOH Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega, and Ateneo De Manila School of Medicine and Public Health founding associate dean, Dr. Maria Eufemia Yap.

UCHP has identified four priority areas that will become the focus of its initial policy recommendations.

The first one revolves around the direction of the National Health Accounts from 1991 to 2022, wherein the UCHP embarks on a sonorous analysis of the data, offering a time-series impact analysis of the reforms. An ongoing project, the initial report will be presented in May 2024.

UCHP has also started the ball rolling on its study on the governance of provider payment mechanisms. It proposes to examine global best practices to craft a governance framework tailored to the Philippines. The initial report, also slated for May 2024, aims to enhance the credibility, transparency, and accountability of provider payments.

The third priority area is the initiative to develop a manual of operations in implementing the Philippine Health Insurance Corporations’s (PhilHealth) Outpatient Benefit Package called Konsulta. The manual aims to fill the gaps in Konsulta's expansion, covering accreditation, organizational aspects, membership, benefits availment, financial management, reporting and monitoring.

The first draft of the manual is expected to be finished at end of May 2024. This is particularly important as DOH and PhilHealth continue to expand the benefits being covered by Konsulta. The manual will be of particular use to health care providers, LGUs and covered members.

Photo shows officers of UCHP, its advisory council and guests who delivered solidarity messages. (From left) Dr. Leopoldo Vega, former DOH Undersecretary and Chief of Staff; Dr. Maria Eufemia Yap, Associate Dean of Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health; Clinton Campos Hess, President, Unilab Foundation; Dr. Godofredo Jose Hizon, Medical Specialist and Chief Training Officer of Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital; Dr. Maria Minerva Calimag, President of Philippine Medical Association; Dr. Enrique Ona, former Secretary of Health; Emmanuel Ledesma Jr., President and CEO of Philhealth; Thanh Le, PSM, Counsellor for Development, Australian Embassy; Mariano John Tan, Vice President of Unilab Foundation; Dr. Rosanna Buccahan, Provincial Officer II, Province of Bataan; Dr. Lourdes Domingo-Maglinao, Dean, UST Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, Chief of Neurosurgery in UST Hospital; Carmen “Menchie” Auste, CEO of Cancer Warriors; Dr. Marthony Basco, City Health Officer of Valenzuela City; and Ruben John Basa, UCHP Program Director.
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Lastly, UCHP aims to create a framework for a referral system in the over 6,000 geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) in the Philippines, where access to health services is a persistent challenge. The plan is to come up with models for residents of a GIDA access to a continuum of care on a sustainable basis.

By assessing both the demand and supply sides, the UCHP endeavors to develop a comprehensive framework that considers inputs, processes, and minimum standards. With a draft manual due by May 2024, the study aspires to be a blueprint for improving healthcare accessibility in marginalized areas.

“Together, let us pursue our shared vision where health is not determined by income level, geographic location or social status. Together, let us work to shape a healthier and more equitable future,” Campos Hess added.

UCHP was formally launched last March 20 at The Peninsula Manila witnessed by officials of the DOH, PhilHealth, non-government organizations such as USAID and JICA, civil society, public and private hospitals, members of the Diplomatic Corps, development partners like the Asian Development Bank, health care industry organizations, local government executives, patient groups, academe and health providers.


Editor’s Note: This press release is sponsored by Unilab Foundation. It is published by the Advertising Content Team that is independent from our Editorial Newsroom.

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