I. Development Context
A. National Health Situation
In 2008, one of the major developments in the Philippine health care system is the approval or enactment of the Republic Act 9502 or otherwise known as Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008. This mandated the Department of Health, Bureau of Food and Drugs and the Intellectual Property Office to issue the implementing rules and regulations for RA 9502. The new law will give way to parallel importation of cheaper medicines from other countries and at the same time will also induce local pharmaceutical companies to complement the rising competition in the market. It will also allow the Department of Health to issue compulsory licenses to other manufacturers to produce generic drugs for domestic use in cases of extreme public health need. The DOH is also mandated to conduct a price regulation on the maximum retail prices of the medicines. RA 9502 will also generate the acceleration of government efforts to put up more government pharmacies selling cheap medicines to the poor. At present, there are 1,746 Botika ng Bayan outlets and 11,572 Botika ng Barangay outlets nationwide which are selling 24 classes of essential types of medicine for hypertension, asthma, diabetes and for common infections. With the new law in place, majority of the poor people shall have access to quality and affordable medicines in their respective localities.Also during this year, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) has increased its benefits to its members to cope with the rising medical and health expenses during this phase of global economic slowdown. A billion pesos will be added to the 2009 budget of the sponsored (indigent) program of the National Health Insurance Program to fully fund the premium of the sponsored (indigent) members. The agency will also provide PhilHealth benefits to displaced workers including them in the “sponsored group” of members. This is PhilHealth’s contribution to the government’s economic stimulus package.There was also a plan to amend and update the provisions of Republic Act 7883 Magna Carta for Health Workers which will benefit the barangay health workers in the issues of security of tenure, adequate training, health benefits and other entitlements. This will eventually professionalize and recognize the contribution of barangay health workers in the delivery of health services especially in the rural areas. Barangay health workers have been vanguards in the government’s effort to combat the most common diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, malaria, etc.In February 2009, the Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) also expanded the benefit packages that it provides its members. One of the benefit packages is the coverage of the 4th Normal Spontaneous Delivery in accredited facilities nationwide. The new package took effect January 1 of this year, at a case rate of P4,500.00 inclusive of hospital and doctor’s fees. PhilHealth also introduced the Outpatient Malaria Package worth P600.00 as part of the country’s response to the global aim of combating malaria as called for in the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. The PhilHealth also introduced the Voluntary Surgical Contraception Package and the Tiered Payment of the Professional Fees of accredited physicians to ensure that the medical care services that they provide are of the highest4quality that PhilHealth members deserve. The Board of PhilHealth also approved the revised Case Type Classification to update the benefits by providing a more appropriate case type classification with corresponding ICD-10 codes. During the previous implementation of case type classification, cancer cases receiving chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy as well as chronic renal failures undergoing dialysis were previously classified as Case Type “A”. These have been upgraded to Case Type “C”.PhilHealth has also added traditional, complementary and alternative medical (TCAM) benefits for certain diseases for use of its staff. TCAM has been seen by PhilHealth as an alternative to expensive Biomedical treatments. PhilHealth experiences gained from these TCAM services shall be useful for the agency as it prepares for TCAM benefit packages in view of accreditation of acupuncture and chiropractic practitioners and clinics by the Philippine Institute for Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC), the government agency overseeing the development of TCAM in the Philippines.
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