Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the Philippines’ response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic has sped up the enactment of some provisions of the Universal Health Care (UHC) law.

“What the national government and the local governments had done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic… naging accelerator ang pandemic response to certain provisions of the UHC,” Duque said in a virtual forum in celebration of the “12.12” International Universal Health Coverage Day.

Duque said the local government’s engagement and social mobilization were enacted due to the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“I don’t think there was ever an experience or event of huge public health implication as the Covid-19 na ang national government at local government units talagang pinaigting ‘yung coordination, ‘yung collaboration, ‘yung synergy, ‘yung complementation tapos ‘yung ating clinical management improvements na-expand ang capacity for isolation, prevention, testing, treatment and reintegration,” Duque said.

“Ang accelerated component ng UHC [are] enhanced epidemiology, surveillance system, disaster risk reduction management system, health promotion campaign… lahat ito napalakas na natin,” he added.

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) was also able to hike the coverage and adjust pneumonia benefit packages for Covid-19 patients.

“Ang PhilHealth tinaas ang support. Dati P16,000 lang ang mild to moderate pneumonia package. Naging umabot ng P42,000 sa COVID benefit package. Ang severe nga P32,000 lang pero [ngayon] severe to critical umaabot anywhere from P333,000 to P786,000,” Duque said.

Under the UHC law, Filipino citizens are automatically enrolled to the National Health Insurance Program. It was enacted in February 2019.

Duque said that the implementation of the UHC law is still ongoing and far from over, mentioning the recent PhilHealth corruption fiasco.

“Repair the tattered image of PhilHealth. Pagtugon sa reports of fraudulent practices ng healthcare providers and raising awareness ng benefit rights,” he said. RJ Espartinez