Addressing Primary Care Inequities in Underserved Areas of the Philippines: A Review
Background. Inequities in health care exist in the Philippines due to various modifiable and non-modifiable determinants. Through the years, different interventions were undertaken by the government and various stakeholders to address these inequities in primary care. However, inequities still continue to persist. The enactment of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act aims to ensure that every Filipino will have equitable access to comprehensive and quality health care services by strengthening primary care. As a step towards UHC, the government endeavors to guarantee equity by prioritizing assistance and support to underserved areas in the country. This paper aims to review different interventions to promote equity in the underserved areas that could aid in needs assessment.
Methods. A search through PUBMED and Google Scholar was conducted using the keywords, “inequity,” “primary care” and “Philippines.” The search yielded more than 10,000 articles which were further filtered to publication date, relevance to the topic, and credibility of source. A total of 58 full-text records were included in the review.
Results and Discussion. In the Philippines, inequities in primary care exist in the context of health programs, facilities, human health resources, finances, and training. These were recognized by various stakeholders, from government and private sector, and nongovernment organizations, taking actions to address inequities, applying different strategies and approaches but with a shared goal of improving primary care. On another end, social accountability must also be instilled among Filipinos to address identified social and behavioral barriers in seeking primary care. With political commitment, improvement in primary care towards health equity can be achieved.
Conclusion and Recommendation. To address inequities in primary care, there is a need to ensure adequate human resources for health, facilities, supplies such as medications, vaccination, clean water, and sources of funds. Moreover, regular conduct of training on healthcare services and delivery are needed. These will capacitate health workers and government leaders with continuous advancement in knowledge and skills, to be effective providers of primary care. Institutionalizing advocacy in equity through policies in healthcare provision would help realize the aims of the Universal Health Care Act.