MANILA, Philippines - Ayala Corp. said it is committed to in- vesting more in healthcare after acquiring a 50-percent stake in generic medicines retailer Generika and piloting community- based primary care clinics under the brand FamilyDOC.
This as a former health secretary said private sector investments are needed in healthcare. In a recent forum organized by Ayala and the University of the Philippines School of Economics, former Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the government's health- care programs require more private sector participation.
The next administration must provide additional opportunities for these partner- ships, said Ona, one of the discussants at the 9th Ayala-UPSE Forum He said the private sector could play a big role in helping the government achieve the goal of expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare, especially among the poor and underserved. "I'm glad to see that, finally, a good number of big corporations are now investing and participating in the care of those (who cannot afford to spend much)," said Ona element-invisibleBusiness ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Speakers during the recent forum also included UPSE dean Orville Solon, and UPEcon-Health Policy Development Pro- gram consultant Alejandro Herrin who tackled practical reforms for PhilHealth, the country's health insurance program They said socialized pricing in government health facilities and increasing public subsidies for health, especially for lower-income families would be helpful to the public.
Both also agreed that changes are needed in the country's healthcare structure, such as the highly fragmented local health financing and delivery systems. "We probably have sufficient public funds to take care of the needs of the poor The problem is that it's everywhere.
The value of it in terms of leveraging purchasing is weakened," Solon said. Speakers also cited low pay for government workers, which makes it hard to attract competent health reform managers, and the lack of information to track progress of re- forms as among the fundamental weaknesses of the government's healthcare program Edwin Mercado, president and chief operating officer of QualiMed, an Ayala Land affiliate, said the private sector perspective should also be included in the capacity planning of government agencies.
"For the government to be efficient, responsive, and meet the growing needs of the population, we can work together in the articulation of a single vision which can be achieved by working on parallel goals," he said. Mercado, meanwhile, also cited some obstacles for private sector participation.
These include non-streamlined taxation policies, insufficient cost coverage of Phil- Health's healthcare packages, schedule of licensing of medical facilities, and benefit availment in the Board of Investments such as duty-free importation of medical equipment and systems. The Ayala-UPSE Economic Forum is a quarterly event supported by Ayala Foun- dation and the University of the Philippines School of Economics, which aims to raise the level of public debate on issues and potential solutions concerning the Philip- pine economy.
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