Home Editors' Picks ADB approves $450-M loan to fund universal healthcare in PHL

ADB approves $450-M loan to fund universal healthcare in PHL

Healthcare workers are seen at a hospital in Manila. — PHILIPPINE STAR/KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

THE ASIAN Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday said it has approved a $450-million loan (around P24.9 billion) to fund the Philippines’ Universal Health Care (UHC) program.

In a statement on Wednesday, the ADB said the loan aims to strengthen health policy reforms in the Philippines, as well as improve Filipinos’ access to medicine and health services. It also seeks to “sustain universal healthcare coverage and increase financing for UHC.”

The funds will go to the implementation of the Build Universal Health Care Program (Subprogram 2), which will implement reforms such as sustainable financing for UHC, the integrated delivery of quality health services, and the interoperability of health information systems.

“The Build UHC Program is part of ADB’s commitment to deliver long-term support to the country to ensure all Filipinos have equitable access to quality health services without exhausting their finances… The program will also help ensure the reforms are responsive to gender-specific health issues and the impacts of climate change on people’s health and well-being,” ADB Principal Health Specialist Eduardo Banzon said.

The ADB said the Philippine government has adopted an updated health financing strategy, a national medicine access policy, and the National Health Data Repository framework under the Build UHC Subprogram 2.

The government also implemented the Green and Safe Health Facilities program to ensure public health facilities are “disaster-resilient, environmentally sustainable, and gender-responsive.” It also boosted the number of available primary care providers, as well as enhanced the primary care benefits under the National Health Insurance Program.

“The government expanded health promotion activities in communities, workplaces, and schools across the country, including the designation of barangay health workers as community-level health education and promotion officers. The government also initiated an annual monitoring of UHC outputs and introduced performance incentives for local government units,” the ADB said.

In 2019, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act. It aims to ensure all Filipinos have access to cost-effective and quality healthcare services.

Last month, the ADB approved a $400-million loan for the Philippines to reform tax policies and ramp up revenue collection.

Earlier this week, the ADB said it is allocating $10 billion (around P553 billion) in climate finance for the Philippines starting next year until 2029. This would allow the Philippines to implement its commitments to climate action under the Paris Agreement.

The ADB was the country’s top provider of active official development assistance (ODA) in 2022. It extended $10.85 billion worth of assistance, equivalent to 33.47% of the total ODA portfolio.

The multilateral lender is looking to earmark between $3.5 billion and $4 billion annually in loans for the Philippines until 2029. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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