A Call for an Evidence-informed Criteria Selection to Guide Equitable Health Investments in the Era of Universal Health Care: Policy Analysis

  • Ma. Esmeralda C. Silva
  • Ma-Ann M. Zarsuelo
  • Marianne Joy N. Naria-Maritana
  • Zenith D. Zordilla
  • Hilton Y. Lam
  • Michael Antonio F. Mendoza
  • Ara Karizza G. Buan
  • Frances Karen A. Nuestro
  • Janvic A. Dela Rosa
  • Carmencita D. Padilla
Keywords: equity, Universal Health Care, need indicators, health investments


Background. The passage of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act in the Philippines in early 2019 intensified the need to ensure equitable health investments by the government. Exploring the different criteria and indicators that are used to determine areas that are most in need of health services can help local and national health authorities determine priorities for health investments given finite resources.

Methods. A systematic review of literature on determinants of health equity and other indicators was conducted as pre-work to generate discussion points to the roundtable discussion participated by all major key stakeholders. Shared insights and expertise were thematically analyzed to produce a policy paper with consensus policy recommendations.

Results. Based on the review of the literature and the discussion, indicators (mainly physical inaccessibility and socio-economic factors) for identifying Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA) in DOH Administrative Order 185, s. 2004 is used to prioritize municipalities for health investments. Review of other policies and guidelines to determine the level of health needs and prioritizing investments yielded to four laddered domains: geographic, population characteristics (e.g., social and cultural determinants of access), health system (e.g., health service delivery), and health status. These domains may provide a more equitable set of metrics for health investment. The Local Investment Plan for Health (LIPH) is the current process used for health-related investments at the local level and may be revised to be more responsive to the requirements set by the UHC Act 2018. Hot spotting to concentrate health services by communities may be a more rapid approach to investment planning for health. Bed capacity as a specific metric in the UHC Act 2018 highlights the need for a review of the Hospital Licensure Act 2004.

Conclusion and Recommendations. To aid in determining priorities for health investments, a comprehensive integrated analysis of resources, determinants, and indicators should be done to determine the need and the gaps in the available resources. Innovative strategies can also be best implemented such as mathematical models or formulas. Lastly, current strategies in the development, monitoring, and evaluation of investment planning for health at different levels should be strengthened, expanded, and harmonized with other existing development plans.


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