Medicine Cabinet
Teodoro B. Padilla

In a few days’ time, about 25 million Filipino students are expected to troop back to school. Education is so important that South African leader Nelson Mandela once said that education is the most powerful weapon, which one can use to change the world.

Education is crucial for a country like ours, which has a young median age of 23. With the high potential of having a young population, the government expressed its commitment to investing in human capital.

Human capital is also about investing in health as it goes hand and hand with education. A child who has access to needed health interventions often grows up healthy and able to attend and perform well in school. 

For Department of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno, these human capital investments focusing on education and health are essential building blocks to attain the goals of “Ambisyon Natin 2040,” a long-term vision that describes our country’s collective aspirations, values, and principles; our desire to live a comfortable life, and to live in peace and financial security.

During the forum “Health for Juan and Juana: Moving Forward with the Philippine Health Agenda,” Mr. Diokno explained that human resource investments are crucial in molding the youth into an agile and competent work force.

“In an aging world, this (young population) is a formidable asset. And in tandem with education, health care is a centerpiece to this human capital development agenda of the Duterte administration,” he said.

Mr. Diokno underscored the government’s increasing appropriations for the health sector to P158.3 billion in 2017 from P132.74 billion in 2016.

While several milestones in health have been achieved in recent years, there exists pervasive issues in health care, specifically in the areas of reproductive health, maternal health, and accessibility of health care, among others.

The increased allocation will be used to fund the expenditures for hospital, outpatient, public health services, health insurance, and research and development on health. The 19.2% increase over the 2016 level aims to allow a faster and improved delivery of service to the public.

Of the total allocation for health, P98.40 billion has been given to the Department of Health (DoH). It represents a 21.4% increase over its 2016 level of P81.06 billion.

The appropriation will be used to fund DoH programs in health human resource, early childhood care and development, national immunization, other infectious diseases, tuberculosis control, and reproductive health.

Meanwhile, P53.2 billion has been allocated to the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) to ensure that low-income individuals remain healthy and capable of finding means to support themselves and their families. The poor as well as those belonging to the informal sector and the senior citizens are among the priorities.

As Mr. Diokno concluded, the road to the realization of the country’s vision of a Matatag, Maginhawa, at Panatag na Buhay will be easier if we continue to improve our country’s health system.

Medicine Cabinet is a column of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), representing the research-based medicines and vaccines sector in the country. The author is the executive director of PHAP.  E-mail the author at