DOH conducts virtual patient forum on UHC and access to medicines

Press Release | 18 December 2020

The Department of Health on December 17 held the 12th Policy Dialogue on Universal Healthcare and Access to Medicines, more commonly known as the Patient Forum. The event was attended by patient support groups and civil society organizations and was focused on providing information on policy directions and program updates of the DOH in relation to access to quality affordable medicines and healthcare services. This was the second virtual Patient Forum conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is a follow through of the first dialogue held on September 30, 2020.


During the event, the patient groups were given updates on the government’s efforts in improving access to medicines. These accomplishments include the implementation of the maximum retail price (MRP) that reduced the cost of medicines to as much as 50 percent, price freeze of emergency essential medicines and medical devices for victims of the recent typhoons, programmatic laws such as the National Integrated Cancer Control Program, the Mental Health Act and Rare Disease Act, and the Medicines Access Programs for chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes.


Through these programs and initiatives, the DOH was able to bring down the cost and even provided free medicines to patients, including those in far and underserved areas of the country. The DOH continues to educate the Filipino people on cancer, mental health, rare diseases and the most common diseases in the country. Through these pharmaceutical reforms, access to medicines is sustained most especially during this time of pandemic where the livelihood of people is greatly affected.


Furthermore, the DOH has continuously recalibrated its strategies targeted to improve the country’s overall COVID-19 response by adopting a whole-of-government, whole-of-system and whole-of-society approach.


To protect the public against the rising cost of COVID-19 testing, the DOH, in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), has issued a Joint Administrative Order (JAO) setting the price range for Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Reaction (RT-PCR) Testing for COVID-19. In addition, the Department has been continuously preparing for the implementation of the Philippine COVID-19 vaccination program.


Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire, who represented the Secretary of Health during the “Secretary’s Hour,” addressed various concerns of the patients and assured them that the Department is exerting all its efforts to respond to their needs, and is committed in improving its policies to make medicines more accessible, especially for the vulnerable groups.


The dialogue shall continue to serve as an avenue to promote transparency and people engagement towards achieving Universal Healthcare, especially during this time of pandemic.