DOH, WHO Launch Cooperation Strategies Toward a Healthy Philippines

Joint media release by the Department of Health of the Philippines and WHO

WHO/Y. Shimizu

Health statistics over the years indicate that more Filipinos live longer now as a result of collaborative efforts of the government, various development partners and stakeholders. Several health sector reforms have been made to expand the breadth and depth of health service delivery and coverage. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been a staunch partner of the Government in developing strategies to improve the health of the people. This includes the Country Cooperation Strategy (CCS), a mechanism that defines WHO’s strategic framework, aligns it with national health policies and programmes, and complements the Department of Health’s (DOH) pursuit of better health outcomes.

Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, along with Dr Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, Secretary of Health of the Philippines, launched the new Philippines–WHO Country Cooperation Strategy (CCS) 2017–2022 at the Davao Regional Medical Center, Tagum City, Davao del Norte today, jointly committing to the vision of All for Health Towards Health for All. The CCS sets the parameters of collaborative work of WHO and the Government of the Philippines over the next six years to realize the vision of the Philippine Health Agenda.

“The Philippines has so many health achievements to celebrate: people born today can expect to live for more than 70 years. Innovative taxation schemes have pushed back unhealthy behaviors and tripled the health budget. More than 92% of all Filipinos now benefit from national health insurance," said Dr Shin.

One of the highlights of the launch was the visit to La Filipina Safe Birthing Facility for its opening and ceremonial ribbon-cutting and Davao Regional Medical Center for receiving its formal DOH accreditation. WHO’s engagement in Davao represents an innovative way of linking tangible local action with regional and national policy development. The province has been recognized as an advance implementation area for many pioneering public health approaches, with WHO and the DOH working hand-in-hand. The experiences drawn from the engagement have laid the blueprint for the Philippine Health Agenda, which symbolizes several of the new priorities enshrined in the CSS.

“Davao has engaged the whole community to care about health, focusing on making essential health and nutrition services available to all and advancing the concept of service delivery networks. The services being provided here are great examples how WHO and the Philippine Government working together can really make a difference,” Dr Shin added.

The Philippines is a fast growing economy undergoing profound societal transformation. However, with growth and changing lifestyles come challenges of noncommunicable diseases. At the same time, diseases of poverty persist. Around 30% of children are malnourished and around 30% of the population lack regular access to essential medicines. While health insurance coverage is high, out-of-pocket payments remain high, accounting for more than half of the country's total health expenditure.

“Sustaining these improvements and supporting the Philippine Government to address other pressing challenges will be at the heart of WHO’s work in the country over the next five years,” Dr Shin said.

Seeking to address these concerns, the administration of President Duterte has ushered in a national pro-poor platform. DOH has moved swiftly to take this forward, endorsing the Philippine Health Agenda 2016–2022. The agenda guides work towards goals of better health outcomes for all, overcoming disparities and protecting against high health-care costs.

The newly launched Philippines–WHO CCS 2017–2022 complements the DOH agenda with five unique strategic priorities:

  • Save lives by ensuring full access to immediate impact interventions to save more lives now.
  • Promote well-being by empowering people to lead healthy lives and enjoy responsive health services.
  • Protect health by better anticipating and mitigating disasters, and environmental and emerging health threats.
  • Optimize the health architecture and overcome its fragmentation.
  • Use platforms for health and support health in all settings, policies and sectors.

“The Philippine Government commends the continuous partnership of the DOH and WHO in pursuit of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. As the country experiences the double burden of both the communicable and noncommunicable diseases, the WHO CCS for 2017–2022 will definitely provide the needed support to ensure that the Philippines' quest for sustainable and meaningful health sector reforms will be achieved. Through the years, this partnership with WHO has enabled countless milestones and achievements that have translated to improved health service delivery, reduction of preventable deaths and effective management of the health system. We are optimistic that together with WHO and our other development partners, the Philippines will be able to achieve its National Objectives for Health and the 2030 SDGs,” Health Secretary Rosell-Ubial said.

The CCS builds on a strong history of cooperation between the Philippines and WHO. The country is a founding member of the Organization. It has hosted the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific since 1951 and currently serves as a Member of the WHO Executive Board.

"In the coming six years, we look forward to continuing to work together as partners in health for the more than 100 million people of the Philippines and the 1.9 billion people of the Western Pacific Region," Dr Shin concluded.

For further information, please contact:

Director Maylene Beltran
Bureau of International Health Cooperation
Department of Health
Republic of the Philippines
Telephone: +632 651 7800 local 1338

Mr Ruel E. Serrano
Communications Unit
World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific
Telephone: +632 528 9993