PHL, EU sign agreement providing PHP 1.8B for health sector reform

By Sweetie dela Torre

MANILA, Aug. 12(PNA) — The Philippines and the European Union (EU) have signed the Philippines Health Sector Reform Contract (PHSRC) providing 30M euro grant (Php 1.8B) to support the Philippine Health Sector Reform Agenda.

“The DOH has continually aspired to strengthen national and local health systems by rationalizing and improving the quality of health services and ensuring better access to these services by the Filipinos, especially the poor and the disadvantaged. The partnership of the Philippines and the European Union provided the much needed boost to further the health sector reforms towards the achievement of Universal Health Care for the Filipinos.” DOH Secretary Enrique T. Ona announced in a statement Tuesday.

Under the agreement, the EU will provide a € 30 million or Php1.8 billion grant to generally support Philippine government initiatives in developing the country’s health sector.

The grant covers a budget support of € 20.5 million directly channeled to the National Treasury, a complementary component of € 9.5 million aimed at funding various technical assistance and capacity building programs to strengthen the Department of Health’s (DOH) health delivery systems.

The signing of the agreement increases the total support of the EU to the health sector to € 118 million or approximately Php7.2 billion between 2006 and 2018.

EU has continuously supported DOH programs that have achieved remarkable progress over the past years. Based on DOH data, noteworthy is the decline in child mortality from 58 in 1998 to 30 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011; the increase in the population’s insurance coverage from 62 percent in 2010 to 83 percent in 2012 of which 53 percent come from the poorest and most vulnerable families in the country. Furthermore, 27 provinces have been declared malaria free, and the proportion of people infected with HIV and AIDS has remained below one percent of the population.

The agreement was signed by Europe Aid Cooperation for Asia Director Dirk Meganck, representing the European Union, and Secretary of Finance Cesar V. Purisima, representing the Philippine government.

European Union Ambassador Guy Ledoux said that out of the € 30 million grant, the EU is authorizing the release of € 10 million to support the “Build Back Better” plan of the DOH after typhoon “Yolanda.”

“The grant is an affirmation of the European Union’s commitment to ensure that disadvantaged and vulnerable people have access to quality health services through a more effective, efficient and equitable health system,” he added.

“The Philippine Government is very thankful for the support the European Union has provided the country with over the past decade, particularly for its assistance to the Philippine’s health sector. This very timely assistance will not only help strengthen the National Government actions in rebuilding Typhoon Yolanda-hit areas, but also complement the current Government direction towards enhancing Philippine delivery health systems for the Filipino people who are the backbone of this country’s strong economic growth and development,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said.

This third phase of the Health Sector Policy Support Programme succeeds the Support Programme Phase II which was launched in December 2010 and the Health Sector Reform Agenda which was launched in 2005 (also known as FOURmula One for Health) to speed up implementation of critical health interventions.

The Philippines launched the Aquino Health Agenda highlighting the Universal Health Care Strategy or the UHC. This strategy targets the availability and accessibility of health services and necessities for all Filipinos in pursuit of the following: financial risk protection through expansion in enrollment and benefit delivery of the National Health Insurance Program, improved access to quality hospitals and health care facilities and attainment of health-related Millennium Development Goals.(PNA)