Filipino Government Attention To Improving National Healthcare Agenda Likely To Aid Internal Stability In Disease Control

NIBadgeMODERATE.jpgExecutive Summary:

Infectious diseases, including the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections among disaster victims is likely to moderately impact social development among Filipino disaster victim populations and increase dependence on emergency and humanitarian aid and for relief and subsequent health repercussions. The Filipino government's action to improve healthcare will likely only marginally impact United States, (US) interests towards enhancing security through increased social stability in the Philippines in the next 10-15 years. Health awareness is likely to expand within this time frame by implementing government plans to increase availability for prescription drugs among the poor and expanding the existing physician population through a structured medical education system.


Relations between the US and the Philippines are highly likely to continue focusing on security concerns over transnational crimes involving human trafficking and terrorism. Due to Filipino government actions to expand prescription availability throughout the population, the spread of infectious and chronic disease is likely to moderately impact these US interests over the next 10-15 years. During this time, the Philippines will likely remain strategically important to the US in promoting security within the Southeast Asia and Pacific region, with the US directly providing support to strengthen the Philippines military and law enforcement structure. Disease is likely to marginally impact US economic support that targets measures to counter human trafficking in the Philippines where high unemployment, sex tourism and weak government control over human trafficking cultivates human trade conditions, creating a prime source nation for human trafficking victims.

Disease threats from the Philippines are unlikely to directly impact the US and will likely continue to remain an internal concern for the Filipino government, with healthcare improvements likely for the 36.8 percent living below the poverty line within the Philippines’ borders. The Filipino governmenthas implemented anti-poverty measures to improve basic health care coverage and alleviate out-of-pocket expenses for medicine to the Philippines’ poor. In December rp-map.gif 2006, the government officially enacted a three point prescription drug strategy to cut prescription drug costs in half, to increase availability to the poor and to expand public awareness campaigns for medicines available.

The health sector in the Philippines presently faces an increase in health professionals, predominantly doctors, leaving the Philippines to work as nurses in foreign nations. Poor government support for the healthcare in the Philippines contributed to 3,500 doctors finding nursing employment abroad since 2000. Government response through current measures to develop the health sector will likely continue, expanding the health care agenda in the next 10 to 20 years. The doctor to patient ratio in the Philippines currently represents 1 doctor for every 26,000 Filipino citizens, a decrease in physician availability from 1 doctor for every 6,000 Filipino citizens. The low 3.5 percent allocated from the national budget for the health sector and the rapid decrease in medical doctors proacticing in the Philippines prompted Filipino Senator, Juan Ponce Enrile, to submit a bill to restructure the Medical Act of 1959 into a modern Physicians Act. Senator Enrile supports the new Physicians Act as a means to correct for a weak Filipino health sector that “…continues to receive one of the lowest allocations under the annual appropriations of the [Filipino] government..." The Physicians Act aims to increase Filipino government participation in health sector improvements through regulating medical education and medical practices, encouraging doctors to remain practitioners within the Philippines.

Efforts to decrease chronic disease proliferation in the Philippines will nearly certainly continue over the next 10-15 years through increased public outreach programming and government agencies networking with non-profit organizations (NGOs) and health professionals to incorporate prevention into the greater measures throughout the entire Filipino community. Additional government measures exist to address growing chronic disease concerns, including likely increases in cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes in the next 10-15 years. Diabetes alone will likely substantially increase beyond the 2.7 million cases reported in 2000.

Tobacco smokers account for 23.1 percent of the Filipino population, further contributing to increased chronic disease cases as 95 percent of constant tobacco use results in a form of chronic disease development. Government response to target chronic disease proliferations includes creating the Non-Communicable Disease Control Service to encompass multiple social and economic contributing factors for chronic disease. Objectives promote improving social factors including lifestyle change among tobacco users, enhance nutritional and dietary improve factors, and increase physical activity.

World Health Organization (WHO) statistics categorize the Philippines as “a low-level epidemic country" for HIV/AIDS. The spread of HIV/AIDS in the Philippines will likely continue due to low regulations within the sex trade industry, heightened shame the Filipino society attaches to infected citizens, and poor health care regulations within the nation. Statistics for the Philippines HIV/AIDS infected population are highly likely reported at lower levels due to the social environment where infected patients face social isolation, resulting in underreporting. Societal factors supports an atmosphere where HIV/AIDS continues to spread in the Philippines.

Additional health concerns are likely to emerge from shifting weather conditions linked to global warming, creating increases in tropical storm frequency that will likely negatively impact the spread of infectious disease in the Philippines. Warmer weather conditions, combined with infections arising from natural disaster consequences will likely increase rates for infectious diseases to spread among the increased human contact in victim shelters and bacteria from contaminated water supplies. The high susceptibility to multiple typhoons and tropical storms each year in the Philippines* contributes to disease outbreaks from bacteria contaminating the water supply and the spread of illness among victims living in crowded shelters. The Philippines largely depends on monetary international relief to help accelerate victim management following typhoon devastations. The United Nation’s (UN) Central Emergency Response Fund expanded and centralized aid levels to more efficiently provide relief to victims in the Philippines, likely working to reduce the spread of infection throughout victim shelters as typhoons occur.

Additional Comments:


Source Reliability: 8
Analytic Confidence: 6.5

Primary Author: Allison Goffredo

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