European Union Grants Contract to SDRC to Conduct Study Under Health Sector Policy Support Programme

Over the past two years, advances made in the Philippines’ financial standing in spite of a weak global economy have been the topic of much discussion. Projected to be the next Asian Tiger, the country registered a rapid economic growth rate of 6.6% as noted in The Philippine Star (Torres and Calica, February 1, 2013), bolstered by the service and industry sectors and domestic consumption. The benefits of such growth have yet to trickle down to those who are most in need, however. In addition, progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals—particularly in reducing poverty and maternal mortality, and protecting children from malnutrition and diseases—targeted for 2015 has been wanting.

Thus, to contribute to the improvement of the health status of the population, especially the poor, and to achieve health-related MDGs, the European Union—represented by the European Union Delegation to the Philippines—joined a number of other international development partners in their efforts to support Philippine health sector reforms. It is now funding the second phase of its Health Sector Policy Support Programme to help strengthen the implementation of Universal Health Care by the Department of Health. The intervention aims to ensure continuous and strategic implementation of the reform agenda, building on the lessons learnt during the implementation of the first phase of the Programme.

Recently, the EU awarded a grant to the DLSU Social Development Research Center to conduct a study under the second phase of the Health Sector Policy Support Programme. The study will be focusing on “How DOH and Other Interventions Close the Gap in Health Outcome Disparities among LGUs.” As proposed, its objectives are to provide validated and useful information to monitor and evaluate progress in the implementation of the UHC strategy, focusing on equitable progress at the LGU level; to provide a deeper understanding of the composition of local responsibility and public expenditures that support devolved health service delivery, including the mechanism of resource allocation decisions regarding health expenditures, other influencing factors as well as an assessment of what works to ensure quality local health service delivery, what does not, and why; and to provide a deeper understanding of the extent and how the national health insurance scheme, other existing insurance schemes, specific DOH-supported programmes and funds and any other mechanisms, close the gap of existing disparities.

To achieve these goals, the project team will investigate disparities in health service delivery and look into underlying positively and negatively influencing factors, including adequacy of LGU responsibilities, LGU capacity and LGU available funding, IRA transfers, DOH specific programs, national health insurance scheme, other insurance schemes, hospital autonomy, public private partnerships, and private sector funding.

The project team is headed by Behavioral Sciences Chair Dr. Romeo Lee with key experts Dr. Arturo Pacificador, Jr. and Dr. Marites Tiongco, and members SDRC Director Dr. Maria Caridad Tarroja, Prof. Ma. Angeles Lapeña, former SDRC Director Dr. Melvin Jabar, Prof. Mitzie Irene Conchada, former SDRC Director Dr. Exaltacion Lamberte, Dr. Divina Gracia Roldan, Prof. Liberty Nolasco, Prof. Ma. Ella Oplas, and Dr. Roberto Javier, Jr.

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Group photo shows representatives of the European Union Delegation to the Philippines, the Department of Health, and the research team for the Health Sector Policy Support Programme project during the kick-off meeting held on October 24 at the DOH in Manila.