Foreign investments

Foreign investment in health care encouraged

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is expected to attract more foreign investment in the health system as the country continues to lag behind in Southeast Asia.

In a discussion paper, the state-run Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) think tank argued that the country has long lagged behind neighboring countries in the region in terms of critical health outcomes and indicators. access.

PIDS researcher Valerie Ulep and research analyst Lyle Casas said this was because public health spending in the Philippines was among the lowest in Southeast Asia.

According to the World Health Organization, the Philippines spends only about 1.5% of its gross domestic product on health, which is significantly lower than that of Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia.

Ulep and Casas also said it also reflects long-standing challenges in health financing, health service delivery, governance and health human resources.

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely overwhelmed the country’s health system since last year, causing repeated lockdowns to prevent its collapse.

To address this, the authors stressed that the government should attract domestic and foreign investment to finance and fill the country’s health infrastructure gap in the medium and long term.

“This can be done by increasing the equity threshold for foreign investment in hospitals to 100%, imposing additional tax breaks for investment in hospitals, and speeding up investment approvals for health services and hospitals. medical equipment, among others, ”they said.

Data showed that the country needs 400,000 hospital beds to meet the population’s need for hospital care, or about 2.7 beds per 1,000 people.

Securing more investment would also allow other Filipinos to have quick access to primary health care facilities.

Last year, only 50 percent of Filipinos were able to access primary health care within the government standard of 30 minutes.

In terms of public health emergency preparedness, the Philippines also received an average score of 53% of the WHO International Health Regulations, making the country one of the worst performing countries in the region.

In addition to the investment, Ulep and Casas called on the government to adopt digital reforms in the delivery of health services through the e-health systems and services bill to serve as a regulatory framework and institutionalize telemedicine.

The authors also highlighted the need to implement strong national reforms to liberalize the country for cross-border health integration.

“Lobbying for regional health integration will be relevant to the country’s pursuit of universal health care, and openness to regional integration can be a way for the national system to be resilient in the face of disasters,” they declared.

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