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“Create a research culture to leverage investments in health” – Sen. Angara

“To boost the quality of our health care system, we must, first, ensure sufficient funding for it and then, create a research culture to leverage those investments,” stressed Senator Edgardo Angara in his message, delivered by Dr. Carmencita Padilla of the University of the Philippines Manila (UP Manila), during the 6th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Pasay City.

 When it comes to health care investment, Senator Angara stated that the country’s financing on basic social services from education to health care is weak compared to other Southeast Asian countries.

Total health expenditure in the Philippines as percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is at 3.7 percent in 2011. This percentage seemed low in comparison to other developing countries such as Cambodia with 5.7 percent, Thailand with 4.1 percent and Vietnam with 7.2 percent investment of their GDP.

On government’s health investment per capita, the Philippines posted a 22% increase while Vietnam made a 235% increase. “In general, the burden of health care cost is still largely carried by the people. In our case, the government and the private expenditure shares are 35% and 65%. It is harder to isolate however, how much of the total health funding actually goes to health R&D as there are limited data available,” reported Senator Angara.

To increase the country’s allocation for health, Senator Angara recommended using four innovative financing sources for health care from the World Health Organization (WHO). These include new and right tax, voluntary contributions from businesses and consumers, taxation of repatriated pharmaceutical industry office, and government funds for health research and development.

Senator Angara also stressed the importance of enacting Senate Bill 2029 or the Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Act as policy support in creating a favorable research environment in the country. “This bill will support quality basic and advance research that will contribute toward better health policy and program for the country through the establishment of the PNHR Fund. It will also help cultivate a research culture among our S&T professionals, a huge concern for everyone here,” said Senator Angara.

Looking ahead, Senator Angara emphasized, “We have much to do for the Filipino research relevant, strategic, responsive and timely. I have every confidence that PNHRS will continue being one of our strongest partners in promoting research and development for the greater well-being of our people.”