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SP4PHC in the Philippines

The Philippines Universal Health Care (UHC) Law offers an unprecedented opportunity to make the purchasing of primary health care more strategic. The law mandates radical structural reforms in the health sector, including universal insurance coverage through PhilHealth, expanded primary health care benefits, among others. SP4PHC is providing technical support to the Department of Health and PhilHealth to design and implement the provisions of the UHC law in order to strengthen purchasing of primary health care, especially family planning and maternal, newborn and child health services. For more information, view our Philippines overview presentation and one pager. To see how our SP4PHC team in the Philippines has helped its government respond to Covid-19, view our Covid-19 response page.

Our Strategies

SP4PHC has three key strategies to strengthen primary health care access and quality in the Philippines.

Strategy 1: Promoting primary health care through Health Care Provider Networks (HCPNs)

The UHC Law calls for the reorganization of providers into HCPNs, which have the potential to enhance continuity of care and improve patient referral systems. SP4PHC is directly supporting two provincial UHC Integration sites in Region 6 to develop HCPN guidelines and tools, to document their implementation, and to share insights with the Department of Health and other stakeholders to influence national policy. 

Strategy 2: Harnessing government action to engage private providers

Demand outstrips supply for family planning services in the Philippines, especially for long-acting reversible contraceptives. Reimbursements from PhilHealth, the agency that manages the country’s national health insurance scheme, should offer an opportunity for the private sector to fill service delivery gaps. However, only a limited number of private providers have opted to provide family planning services and seek PhilHealth reimbursement. SP4PHC is supporting the government to explore why private primary health care facilities are not registering with PhilHealth to deliver reproductive health services, especially family planning. Building from our findings, SP4PHC is collaborating with PhilHealth and the Commission on Population and Development to identify policy changes that will encourage private providers to engage with PhilHealth to offer family planning services. 

Strategy 3: Catalyzing PhilHealth’s impact through an expanded primary health care benefit package

Problems persist in the Philippines in terms of equitable access to high quality primary health care interventions. SP4PHC is working with PhilHealth to design expanded benefit packages for primary health care and to improve their monitoring tools to promote better quality. SP4PHC is also assisting PhilHealth to develop financing strategies and provider payment mechanisms that drive coordinated care, for example by contracting of HCPNs to provide comprehensive care. 

Factsheets

These three factsheets below serve as a reference and aim to visualize the latest data and trends on purchasing family planning, maternal & newborn health services, and a broader overview of purchasing in the Philippines.  Each factsheet also highlights some of the activities the SP4PHC country team is working on with local stakeholders within that topic area.  These factsheets are updated annually (latest in May 2021).

              Health Purchasing Factsheet               Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Factsheet                    Family Planning Factsheet

Featured Learning Products

How Can Lessons From the COVID-19 Response Strengthen the Philippines’ Drive to Universal Health Care?

This brief examines the Philippines’ pandemic response using the five components of the control knobs framework of health systems, developed by Roberts et al. in 2003, including payment, regulation, financing, organization, and behavior. Furthermore, it offers lessons to strengthen as the country continues to implement the provisions of the Universal Health Care Act.

Process Evaluation of the COVID-19 Telemedicine Regulatory Sandbox in the Philippines

Despite government and private sector efforts to ramp up and implement telemedicine programs in the Philippines, significant scale has not yet been achieved. To support the COVID-19 telemedicine program of the Philippines Department of Health, ThinkWell conducted a process evaluation of a regulatory sandbox—or the deployment of new products and solutions in a controlled policy environment—to review how it was implemented from April to August 2020 in metropolitan Manila. These findings will help health stakeholders in the Philippines to better understand how telemedicine can continue to prosper in a post-pandemic world.

Mapping Roles, Functions, and Spending for Family Planning Services in the Philippines

In the Philippines, family planning (FP) services are essential to achieving universal health coverage and promoting economic growth for a rising population. To better understand how FP services can be sustainably financed in the country, ThinkWell worked with the Philippine Commission on Population and Development and the United Nations Population Fund to conduct a 2020 study on how various institutions and agents—both public and private–allocate and spend their funds for FP services. This report presents key results and recommendations, with the hope to support the development of a roadmap for family planning in the Philippines. Moreover, these insights hope to improve delivery, quality, and access to FP services nationwide.

Strengthening Public Financial Management Systems and Health Practices in Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines demanded swift adjustments in health financing arrangements, many of which were linked to the country’s system for public financial management (PFM). This report describes the PFM adjustments made by the country to finance its COVID-19 response. This analysis also explores lessons for PFM improvements that can lead to better financing of health services in the Philippines and how these lessons can be applied globally.

Purchasing Primary Health Care and the Evolving Role of PhilHealth

The Philippines’ 2019 Universal Health Care (UHC) Law prioritizes primary health care (PHC) and puts the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) front and center of national efforts to improve access to high-quality PHC services. This brief describes the evolution of PhilHealths’ role in purchasing PHC, from early, targeted reforms to current comprehensive efforts. In this overview, ThinkWell highlights key challenges still facing PhilHealth and describes opportunities for further reform as the Philippines strives toward the goal of UHC.

An Introduction to the Philippines Universal Health Care Law

With the passage of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law in February 2019, the Philippines is pursuing health sector reform that aims to ensure financial protection and access to health services for all Filipinos. ThinkWell is providing technical assistance to national and local governments in support of the progressive implementation of the UHC Law. To document and share learning from these efforts, ThinkWell introduces The Philippine UHC Law Series, a series of briefs that will explore the nuances of the UHC Law and its implications to the country’s health system. This introductory brief, published in May 2020, provides an overview of the major provisions of the law.

Blogs

COVID-19’s Impact on Strategic Health Purchasing: Lessons from the Philippines

The COVID-19 crisis called for rapid adaptation of purchasing arrangements in the Philippines. In a new blog published in R4D, experts—including ThinkWell’s Pura Angela Wee-Co, Anooj Pattnaik, and Ileana Vilcu—discuss key takeaways from the government’s efforts to develop a COVID-19 benefits package, prompted by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, and maintain essential health services amid the pandemic.

Moving Beyond COVID-19: The Path Towards Universal Health Care in the ASEAN Region

The COVID-19 pandemic has stifled nations across the globe in their pursuit for Universal Health Care (UHC)—and the countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are no exception. A new blog highlights how experts, including Dr. Marife Yap of ThinkWell Philippines, believe ASEAN countries can promote sustainable health care financing and make UHC a reality.

SP4PHC aims to improve how governments purchase primary health care services, with a focus on family planning and maternal, newborn, and child health. SP4PHC is supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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