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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, one pager, and factsheet. 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 working with the Department of Health to develop national-level HCPN guidelines and tools and is directly supporting two provincial UHC Integration sites in Region 6 to test the implementation of HCPNs.

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

High coverage of key maternal, newborn and child health interventions has had limited impact on maternal mortality in the Philippines. A critical challenge remains improving quality of services. SP4PHC is working with PhilHealth to design expanded benefit packages for primary health care and to establish quality standards for these benefits. SP4PHC will support PhilHealth in the monitoring and evaluation of the new benefit package in UHC Integration sites, including an evaluation of impact on maternal, newborn and child health and family planning quality.

Featured Learning Products

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.

Health Financing in the Philippines

The UHC Law enacted in 2019 introduces reforms to the three health financing functions: revenue generation, pooling, and purchasing. It puts primary care at the center of the health system by reorganizing the roles of institutions, shifting towards more prepayment schemes, and improving the overall purchasing arrangements. This brief published in December 2020 describes the current health financing arrangements in the Philippines, highlights challenges, and explains how the UHC Law is designed to respond to these challenges.

Ensuring Equitable Population Coverage: Immediate Eligibility to PhilHealth Benefits

Over the years, PhilHealth introduced several programs to expand population coverage, especially for vulnerable groups. However, there are still gaps in access to and utilization of health services among the poor. The UHC Law enacted in 2019 aims to ensure that all Filipinos are guaranteed equitable access to quality and affordable health care service without suffering from financial hardship. This brief published in March 2021 describes how PhilHealth population coverage improved over time and how the UHC Law aims to sustain and further increase these gains.

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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