Cardinal Santos Medical Center (CSMC) recently held its 13th webicon entitled “Challenges and Opportunities of the Department of Health – CSMC Healthcare Summit” last Sept. 9, Friday. The event was livestreamed via Zoom and on Facebook.
For this webicon, CSMC brought together top professionals in the field of medicine and healthcare to discuss different topics and issues that need to be addressed by the Department of Health (DOH) and its incoming secretary. The webicon was moderated by the President of the Philippine College of Physicians, Prof. Diana A. Payawal.
The panel of speakers consisted of former DOH Secretaries Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral and Dr. Manuel M. Dayrit, former DOH Undersecretary Dr. Teodoro J. Herbosa, and the current President of the Philippine Medical Association Dr. Minerva P. Calimag.
Opening the webicon was Cabral, who provided a discussion on the Universal Healthcare Law. “The COVID-19 pandemic magnified existing gaps in the healthcare sector,” she said. “The bright side of this is that the acknowledgement of these gaps has provided some impetus for the government to fast track the implementation of universal healthcare initiatives and opened opportunities for additional funding of health programs and services.”
Dayrit shared his insights on healthcare financing and how to facilitate the effective alignment of policies, programs, and funds. “We must be able to use our budgets wisely and support those chronically underfunded areas and sustain them over time,” he noted. “Hopefully by doing that, and by financing health as the country develops socioeconomically, we move closer to what we call a health financing transition.”
Herbosa stressed the importance of pandemic preparedness and gave his recommendations on the improvement of health infrastructures. “What happened during the COVID-19 pandemic showed us that many things can be done through digital technology,” he stated. “Digital technology can be used to fast track the implementation of services to remote areas via telemedicine and digital health services. This can help make Universal Healthcare a reality.”
Finally, Calimag talked about health human resources, and what improvements can be made to the distribution of doctors and nurses in the Philippines, especially to the more remote parts of the country. “Most healthcare professionals are centered in cities. And yet, we have many geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas,” she stressed. “Healthcare reform will demand a shift towards a new breed of generalists to meet healthcare needs and absorb the impact of increased access to care under Universal Healthcare.”
To end the webicon, a Q&A session was held, with all the speakers taking part in answering participant questions.
Through the session, CSMC President and CEO, Mr. Raul C. Pagdanganan asked the speakers for their suggestions on how the national leadership can increase the equity base of PhilHealth, which is also experiencing the after effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The government has guaranteed that every person will be enrolled in PhilHealth. Having said that, there must be a commitment to paying the premium of the PhilHealth members who cannot afford to pay it,” concluded Cabral. “That is one way of increasing the equity base of PhilHealth.”
CSMC is committed to using the webicon format to help shape the conversation around the healthcare landscape in the Philippines. By bringing in experts and leaders in their respective fields, CSMC webicons tackle difficult topics and discuss new developments in medicine and public health. Previous webicons discussed the shift of COVID-19 from pandemic to endemic, self-care strategies for workers during COVID-19, detection and treatment of cancer, and more.
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