Group laments poor state of healthcare in PH
The Coalition for Primary Care declared a “healthcare workforce crisis” in a State of the Nation’s Health Address (Sonha) held in Quezon City six days before the President’s State of the Nation Address.
There are only 2.3 primary care providers in the country per 10,000 population, former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said on behalf of the coalition. The number is a total of 0.2 physicians, 0.4 nurses and 1.7 midwives per 10,000 population.
The World Health Organization recommends 24 healthcare workers for every 10,000 people just to address maternal and child health.
“The Philippines is in the midst of a healthcare crisis,” Cabral said in the Sonha held in cooperation with the Philippine College of Physicians.
Almost half of deaths among Filipinos (47.6 percent) are unattended by a doctor or allied health provider, Cabral said. And while PhilHealth coverage has improved, utilization has remained low, especially among the poor and less educated.
“If there are no healthcare workers, there can be no access to healthcare,” Cabral said.
The coalition said universal healthcare is not just about facilities and financing, but about getting people to care for other people.
PhilHealth is an ineffective way in achieving universal access to healthcare because it is a financing system based on premiums, said Dr. Ernesto Domingo, a Ramon Magsaysay awardee and former chancellor of the University of the Philippines Manila.
“Under the universal healthcare, every Filipino should receive healthcare without the need for enrolment,” Domingo said.
Citing practice in other countries, Domingo said the government could tap doctors in the private sector to take care of a number of people in a certain area for a fee.
Cabral said the Asean integration, which would facilitate mobility of medical practitioners in Southeast Asia, might worsen the maldistribution and continued migration of healthcare workers.
The Philippines is the largest exporter of nurses, supplying 25 percent of overseas nurses in 2010, Cabral said. The country is also second to India in exporting physicians.
The Coalition for Primary Care, an umbrella group of about 70 health organizations, urged Congress and the President to provide legislation and policies that would improve recruitment and retraining of healthcare workers.
It called on the government to redistribute healthcare teams in needed areas and retain medical practitioners by providing better working conditions.
The coalition said the government should strengthen the primary care workforce, which provide medical attention for common illnesses and which are also experts on preventive and promotive medicine.
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