Aug 162014

MANILA, Philippines—The European Union has extended a grant of 30-million euros, or around P1.8 billion, to the Philippines to help the government push for initiatives that would improve the health sector, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH said that under the agreement, 20.5-million euros, or roughly P1.2 billion, would go directly to the National Treasury while the rest of the grant would be used to fund various technical assistance and capacity-building programs to boost its health delivery systems.

“The DOH has continually aspired to strengthen national and local health systems by rationalizing and improving the quality of health services and ensuring better access to these services by Filipinos, especially the poor and the disadvantaged,”  Health Secretary Enrique Ona said in a statement.

“The partnership of the Philippines and the EU provides the much needed boost to further the health sector reforms towards the achievement of universal health care for Filipinos,” added Ona.

The latest agreement brings to three the number of EU-funded programs supporting the Philippine Health Sector Reform Agenda, which was launched in 2005 to speed up the implementation of critical health interventions.

Under the Aquino administration, the government launched the Aquino Health Agenda highlighting the Universal Health Care Strategy, which aims to provide health insurance coverage to all Filipinos and improve their access to quality hospital and health care facilities.

The new deal between the Philippines and the European Union also augmented the latter’s support to the health sector to a total of 118-million euros (P7.2 billion) from 2006 to 2018, noted the DOH.

The DOH said the European Union had been persistent in supporting its programs that had achieved significant progress over the past years.

DOH records showed that health programs for mothers and children helped bring down child mortality in the country from 58 in 1998 to 30 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011.

Insurance coverage for the population also climbed from 62 percent in 2010 to 83 percent in 2012, of which 53 percent come from the poorest and most vulnerable families in the country, data showed. Jocelyn R. Uy

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