Health for Juan and Juana

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Medicine Cabinet
Teodoro B. Padilla

THE “Healthy Asia Pacific 2020” Roadmap called on APEC economies to develop sustainable and high performing health systems by adopting or adapting “health in all policies” and a holistic approach, namely “whole-of-government,” “whole-of-society,” and “whole-of-region” to achieve people’s health and wellbeing by the year 2020.

APEC Ministers continue to recognize that a healthy population could provide a solid foundation for economic growth within the region.

The Healthy Asia Pacific 2020 Roadmap identified strong government commitment and leadership as one of the critical factors and action points to achieve the regional vision. This means that the government must appreciate the value of health to economic growth and development. This is not without basis as the World Health Organization (WHO) explained that health is a precondition for, an outcome of, as well as an effective integrated indicator for, measuring progress in sustainable development.

With the government leading the campaign, it could rally the whole-of-government, the private sector, and the entire community to support reforms aimed at improving health.

Another essential factor is the establishment of platforms for policy dialogue and stakeholder engagement, the APEC document said.

The Roadmap acknowledges that stakeholder perspectives — including those of patient groups, medical associations, the health care industry, as well as the general public — are important to ensure the sustainability of evidence-based approaches to decision making.

In this context, the “Health for Juan and Juana: Moving Forward with the Philippine Health Agenda” was first organized to bring together thought leaders and experts in the field of health care, from both private and public sectors, to discuss the gains of recent health reforms and how the momentum can be carried into the incoming Administration. First held in May 2016, the forum presented recommendations for the way forward to ensure that all Filipinos can get the quality health care they deserve.

This year, discussions will center on “Bringing Health to Juan and Juana: Universal Healthcare in the Communities.” It aims to put the spotlight on the crucial role of local government in driving primary health care to attain better health for all.

The forum demonstrates a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach towards health, as different national government agencies, including the Department of Finance, the National Economic Development Authority, Departments of Budget and Management, Trade and Industry, and Interior and Local Government come together, along with patients, development and international partners, academe, and business, to advance health in the national agenda.

Beyond nationally initiated solutions, local models have demonstrated that Local Government Units (LGU) can successfully pursue universal health care towards better health and economic outcomes. Results can be astounding when LGUs prioritize health and pursue innovative solutions towards optimizing local resources.

Leading the forum are the Asian Development Bank, Asian Institute of Management, the PHAPCares Foundation, Medicines Transparency Alliance, Zuellig Family Foundation, Health PRx, Havas Life, QuintilesIMS and US-ASEAN Business Council.

It is the forum’s desire to spark conversations and stimulate collective actions where participants reflect on their roles moving forward. It is indeed time to take action.

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