Biopharmaceutical leader Takeda Healthcare Philippines has recently concluded its Access to Medicines Summit held in Makati, envisioning universal health coverage made accessible to all without creating any financial hardships by 2030.
With the overarching theme of “Onward to a Transformed Healthcare System by 2030”, the event was joined by stakeholders across the healthcare sector to share best practices, identify possible opportunities for collaboration, and fulfill their shared aspirations of improving the country’s access to healthcare and medicines.
Participants include representatives from the Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of the Interior and Local Government, healthcare professional societies, patient organizations, and more. The summit is also in collaboration with RiseAboveNow Business Consulting as co-convenor and technical partner.
“The Access to Medicines Summit is an opportunity to bring together the different sectors of the healthcare industry for our unified vision of universal healthcare. Healthcare is one of the fundamental rights of every human being, but it is still incredibly inaccessible in many countries like the Philippines. Through this summit, we hope that everyone will be made more aware of the obstacles we face, as well as what we can do in our respective sectors and as an industry to help realize this goal of universal healthcare,” said Country Manager of Takeda Healthcare Philippines Loreann Villanueva.
Challenges of universal healthcare in the Philippines
He discussed that some medicines are not made equally available throughout the whole country due to high transaction costs, with certain regulatory, economic and political factors also potentially disincentivizing pharmaceutical companies from introducing new drugs in certain areas. Dr. Ulep also shared that problems in the supply chain lead to an untimely distribution of medicines in communities.
“The private sector has already perfected its system when it comes to supply chain even in far-flung areas, and I think that the public sector needs to adopt that through genuine private-public partnerships. We just need to sit together to design the appropriate incentive mechanisms,” he said.
Aside from these, Dr. Anna Guerrero, Director of the Pharmaceutical Division of the Department of Health, also brought up how the coronavirus pandemic uncovered the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of our current healthcare system before she introduced the Philippine Medicines Policy as the country’s roadmap.
“The Philippine Medicines Policy is not just learning from the barriers and challenges that we have had over the past decade on the access to medicines, but it’s also applying everything that we learned from the pandemic to create a more effective plan for the country. That’s why the policy has strategies that are targeted toward pandemic resiliency. We must make sure that the healthcare system is not just prepared to fulfill universal healthcare, but also prepared for any shocks that might come in the future,” she stated.
By 2030, the Philippine Medicine Policy’s vision is sustainable access to quality and affordable essential medicines and reduced out of pocket spending aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Care agenda.
Achieving access to healthcare
Takeda, together with its partners, underscored that achieving access to universal healthcare will require a collective collaboration, not only by the government but also the members of the health sector, including private institutions.
Likewise, Dr. Guerrero presented a framework to encapsulate the recommended measures in the health sector through an acronym A.C.C.E.S.S—Assurance of safety, efficacy and quality; Collaboration on availability and affordability; Commitment to the rational use of medicines; Effective networking, partnerships and good governance; Sustainable financing and resources; and Strengthening health systems.
The framework presents an improved healthcare system for the Philippines through the strengthening of medicinal regulatory systems, promotion of self-sufficiency through collaboration and local production, rational distribution and use of medicines, mainstreaming of traditional and complementary medicines, good governance and transparency among stakeholders, and a more aggressive research agenda to inform future policies and medicine acquisitions.
“Access is our aspiration—a joint aspiration of not only the government, but also the private sector, and the healthcare professionals—and I’m very happy that you all have embraced this. I hope you take it to heart because that is the goal of universal healthcare—that our patients will have access,” said Dr. Guerrero.
Apart from the series of talks, the summit conducted open forums that inspired shared commitment to improving access to medicines by striving for advancement in supply chain and research and development as well as produce innovations including affordable and accessible medicines needed by the public.
Coming from the insights and expertise of the participants of the AtM Summit 2022, a Catalogue of Partnership Opportunities will be produced. This catalogue will detail out possible collaborations among different health stakeholders, both from the public and private sectors. The catalogue will be published and shall be made accessible to all with the goal of improving access to medicines to every Filipino.