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Secretary Ona highlights research community's role to improve RP's health services

To achieve Kalusugang Pangkalahatan or Universal Health Care, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Enrique Ona emphasized the research community’s vital role in improving the country’s health programs and services during the 30th anniversary celebration of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) at the Shangri-La Hotel Makati City on 16 March 2012.

“In order to be resource-wise in implementing health services and programs, research results are essential in coming up with evidence-based solutions to problems which will guide implementers and policymakers what programs should be prioritized, which interventions or courses of actions are cost-effective and have greater impact,” said Secretary Ona.

There are potential research areas that researchers should look into, according to Secretary Ona. These include studies on health financing, health facilities development, health manpower distribution and healthcare delivery in geographically isolated and disadvantage areas (GIDA).


“Though we implemented programs engaging the private sector, we still need to study how to maximize our partnership with health and maintenance organizations (HMOs) and private insurance companies to provide supplemental benefits to Filipinos. Like PhilHealth, we successfully implemented changes to their case rate payment scheme that allows 5.3 million poor Filipino families to be treated at government hospitals free of cost,” said Secretary Ona.

In terms of health facilities, Secretary Ona admitted, “The DOH has not yet developed an overall development plan for health facilities in the country.” To address this, he encouraged IT specialists to help the DOH map the country’s health facilities. “Through health facility mapping, the DOH will be able to identify priority areas for facility enhancement as well as to provide opportunity to set-up service delivery network for quicker and more efficient referral system for patients needing healthcare services.”

Parallel to facility mapping, “We need to have a comprehensive study of the country’s health manpower to address the problem on health workers maldistribution and brain drain,” said Secretary Ona.

Healthcare services delivery in GIDA also continues to be a major concern. “We need to find alternative approaches to provide services under varying health service delivery conditions among GIDA,” emphasized Secretary Ona.

In conclusion, Secretary Ona cited the need to determine the overall impact of public health interventions in line with the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). “We need to identify the weak points and re-define strategies for the improvement of health services and programs. Here, the role of health researchers is inevitable, your expertise and recommendations are essential to make our health system keep up with the times and be able to take advantage of the advances in technology.”