FOR the second time this year, delegates from Myanmar have chosen to learn from the Philippines on how the components of social health insurance work to provide social protection for Filipinos.
The move to push through with the visit to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) was made possible through the initiatives of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Health Organization (WHO) represented by Dr. Eduardo P. Banzon and Lluis Vinals Torres, respectively. Both requested PhilHealth to conduct the study tour for the Myanmar delegation.
The Myanmar delegation was made up of eight (8) doctor-delegates headed by Assistant Permanent Secretary Than Sin Htoo, Ministry of Health and Sports; Aye Nyein, Regional Public Health Department (RPHD)-Bago Region; Thank Lwin Tun, RPHD-Sagaing Region; Sai Win Zaw, State Public Health Department (SPHD)-Shan Sate; Thiha Aung, SPHD-Rakhin Sate; Thet Wai New, Department of Public Health (DPH)-Naypyitaw; Myo Sett Thway, Department of Medical Services (DMS)-Naypyitaw; and Shoon Lei Nyan Wai Tun, DPH-Naypyitaw.
PhilHealth’s Interim/OIC, President and CEO Dr. Celestina Ma. Jude P. de la Serna welcomed the delegates. “I hope that you will enjoy your stay with us and willingly share your valuable ideas and points-of-view in whatever you observe here in the Philippines even on a short stay.” Before leaving the group, she posed with the delegates for a photo opportunity.
As a response, Thway said that they admired PhilHealth for taking strides despite of the obstacles and coping up with the challenges that enabled PhilHealth to reach its 23rd year of providing access to quality health care services to the Filipino people. The delegates are particularly interested to learn on how to formulate their own health financing strategies or purchasing strategies that will basically support the thinking and policy decision making and how to be able to generate sound efforts to improve the supply side using their investments specifically for the district level. In this way, improvement in the delivery of their health care services will soon be realized.
Myanmar is fast growing as a country and its current total population stands at 52 million. According to WHO’s Torres, a new attempt to introduce its own social health insurance law is expected to further improve access to quality health care. In fact, Myanmar is in the process of creating its own universal health coverage bill that is why aside from the Philippines, they have also visited Indonesia and Thailand, to ensure the success of their health care system.
Htoo said that what motivated them to visit the Philippines is the need to familiarize themselves with the Philippine social health insurance system that pushed PhilHealth to nearly achieve its target of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Speakers who shared their expertise about the different core processes of PhilHealth were Dr. Narisa Portia J. Sugay, OIC-Vice President for Member Management Group who discussed the membership programs; Dr. Francisco Z. Soria, Jr., OIC-Senior Vice President for Health Finance Policy Sector who tackled the benefit packages and availment of services; Vergil de Claro, OIC-Division Chief for Corporate Planning Department who shared with the delegates the pending legislative measure on UHC; and Arsenia Torres, Senior Manager for Social Health Insurance Academy who presented the short video on how the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) started and how it progressed from Medicare to a now bigger and bolder PhilHealth.
The two-day study tour culminated after the successful field visit to Amang Rodriguez Memorial Center and Sta. Elena Health Center, both in Marikina City, where the delegates were able to take a look at the hospital’s and the health center’s facilities and learned from the experts in the health care industry.
The SHIA is optimistic that more delegates from other countries will soon visit the Philippines to learn from PhilHealth as model of health insurance scheme. (END) (by Glomeda C. Pactores; Photos taken by Jose Mari Sanvicente)
(Reference: Dr. Israel Francis A. Pargas, Head Executive Assistant and Concurrent OIC-Vice President for Corporate Affairs Group, Cel No. 0917-8089399)