Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Philippines - DOH to need 4 times more funds to match Cuba’s healthcare expenditure

The government will have to raise the Department of Health’s (DOH) budget four times for the country to match the amount Cuba is spending on public healthcare, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said Tuesday.

?During congressional hearings on the DOH’s proposed P144-billion budget for 2017, Ubial was quizzed on the differences between the Philippine and Cuban healthcare system following her official trip to Cuba last August.

She was sent to the Caribbean island nation by President Rodrigo Duterte to learn more about its public health system.

Ubial said that while Cuba invests heavily in its public healthcare — with 28 percent of the national budget allotted for health — the Philippines only sets aside six percent of its budget for that purpose.

She said the country also lags behind Cuba when it comes to per capita expenditure on health, with the Philippines shelling out only $76 compared to the latter’s $460.

“If we’re going to match that (per capita spending) or raise that to the level of the Cuban model, we need to infuse four times [more money] or 400 percent to the budget,” Ubial said.

With a bigger healthcare budget, the Cabinet official said Cuba has managed to keep its doctor to patient ratio a 1:1,075 of the population. The Philippines, meanwhile, has a ratio of 1:33,000 for frontline healthcare workers.

When asked if it is possible for all Filipinos to enjoy universal healthcare during the Duterte administration, Ubial said: “That’s our dream. The real question is the resources available to us. We believe we can deploy the health workers and provide the medicines to our people if we’re given enough resources by the government.”

Of the DOH’s proposed budget for next year, close to a third or P50 billion will go to the payment of health insurance premiums of poor families and senior citizens.

In particular, the DOH wants to subsidize the insurance coverage of 5.4 million senior citizens, 15.44 million poor families identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and 48,000 beneficiaries in conflict areas.


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