The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Wednesday it approved a $450-million (P24.75 billion) policy-based loan to help the Philippines strengthen health policy reforms, improve Filipinos’ access to medicines and health services, sustain universal health care (UHC) coverage and increase financing for UHC.
It said in a statement the Build Universal Health Care Program (Subprogram 2) is helping scale up the government’s efforts to implement key reforms under the UHC Act of 2019.
These reforms include sustainable financing for UHC, the integrated delivery of quality health services and the interoperability of health information systems.
The new program builds on previous ADB support provided under Subprogram 1 and technical assistance financed by the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific approved in November 2021.
“The Build UHC Program is part of ADB’s commitment to deliver long-term support to the country to ensure all Filipinos have equitable access to quality health services without exhausting their finances,” said ADB principal health specialist Eduardo Banzon.
“The program will also help ensure the reforms are responsive to gender-specific health issues and the impacts of climate change on people’s health and well-being,” he said.
Under Subprogram 2, the government adopted an updated health financing strategy, a national medicine access policy and the National Health Data Repository framework.
The Green and Safe Health Facilities scheme was implemented to ensure public health facilities are disaster-resilient, environmentally sustainable and gender-responsive. It increased the number of available primary care providers and enhanced primary care benefits under the National Health Insurance Program.
The government expanded health promotion activities in communities, workplaces and schools across the country, including the designation of barangay health workers as community-level health education and promotion officers.
The government also initiated an annual monitoring of UHC outputs and introduced performance incentives for local government units.
ADB said it has been a partner of the Philippine government since 2016 in crafting and implementing the UHC Act and supported government efforts to boost the health system. ‘
This includes assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic via the Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 and the Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 under the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility, which helped secure COVID-19 vaccines for Filipinos.