As the world commemorated the International Universal Health Coverage Day last December 12, the Department of Health (DOH) held a special media forum in celebration of the United Nation’s historic and unanimous affirmation of Universal Health Coverage that provides equitable access to quality and affordable essential health care services to everyone, everywhere. With the theme “Health for All: Protect Everyone”, the UHC Day calls on investing in the health system now to end the global crisis and build a safer and healthier future.


During the Media Forum, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III stated that the DOH is pushing for Universal Health Care (UHC) as the new normal. He added that the pandemic did not derail the promise of UHC in the country and instead became an opportunity to fasttrack the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act, saying “This pandemic has become the new arena within which we continue to implement reforms needed to fulfill the UHC promise.”


In order to fully realize the UHC promise, Sec. Duque identified three (3) key areas in which reforms have to be strengthened in order to achieve the goal of UHC: primary health care, province and city-wide integration of health systems, and predictable and precise medical fees. “Bagamat may mga ilang aspeto ng UHC reforms ang kinailangang unahin nang dahil sa pandemya, ang pagdating ng COVID ay lalo pang nagpatibay sa ating pagpapatupad ng UHC. Ipinamalas sa atin ng COVID kung gaano ka-importante ang mga repormang ating itinataguyod,” Sec. Duque said.


Sec. Duque also emphasized key reforms during the crisis which may pave the way towards UHC including the activation of barangay officials and first-responders on a community-level initiative as a response to COVID-19, contact-tracing capacity at the barangay level, and the implementation of One Hospital Command System, among others.


However, even with these parallel strategies, Sec. Duque emphasized that Universal Health Care cannot be achieved overnight and reiterated that the progressive rollout of the key reform areas of UHC is the most reasonable and cost-effective approach to ensure successful realization.


Nagsisimula pa lamang tayo sa pag-abot ng UHC. Kaya naman ang DOH, your DOH, needs all the help it can get. Marami pang mga reporma na nangangailangang maisakatuparan sa panahong ito at sa mga susunod na taon. With this fusion of efforts, we hope to establish a health system that can readily meet the evolving needs of a society whose behaviors have changed from passive acceptance of health services to appropriate health-seeking behavior cognizant of their right to health,” Sec. Duque concluded.