Philhealth rallies stakeholders to achieve universal coverage
By Bong Pedalino
Maasin City (February 18) -- With its aim of embracing virtually all Filipinos to have access to healthcare and medical benefits just a year away, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) has embarked an advocacy campaign on a massive scale backed by specific strategies to attain the goal.
It was on this background that "Oplan Universal Coverage" was launched here yesterday at the Supercha restaurant, in time for the 14th anniversary celebration of Philhealth.
Misael Paigan, Philhealth branch head here in the city and province, disclosed that by virtue of Republic Act 7875, the law creating their office, they were mandated to reach universal coverage by their 15th year of existence, or by February nest year.
Universal coverage means 85% of the Filipinos are covered with Philhealth, Paigan explained.
And this can be done if all the people are consciously aware of the need to be Philhealth-covered, starting with one's own family, Paigan stressed.
Dr. Elizabeth Fernandez, the Regional Vice-President of Philhealth Region 8 office, oriented the partners-stakeholders present during the launching on specific ways and means, also called 14 strategies, by which Philhealth can attain their objective, using the acronym "Reach, Build, Achieve."
Fernandez called on the audience to do their part to make their goal – which is now everybody's shared goal -- a reality, insisting that the strategies she enumerated required for the most part the intense cooperation of all the sectors of society.
This was best illustrated by their battlecry, "Kalusugan ng Lahat, Philhealth and katapat, magpa-miyembro na," Fernandez stressed,adding that she was optimistic that with active support of the government officials and the private sector the attainment of the universal coverage can be assured.
She cited that in 2008, Philhealth had reached 76% coverage nationwide, wherein out of a population of 90 million Filipinos, some 69 million had accessed already Philhealth's services.
The figure for Region 8 was not far behind, with 60% coverage for 2008, or 2.5 million people covered out of a projected 4.2 million population.
The numbers for Southern Leyte province have yet to be checked with the office as this report was written.
In the press conference that followed, Fernandez allayed fears the global economic meltdown may hinder their energy, saying this is the right time the poor population should be provided with health care benefits.
She said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo led the way by appropriating P 4 billion as the national government counterpart for the premium payments under the indigents' program. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]