Living the Health Dream

Health advocates are on a high with the recent news of a Senate Resolution from the Senate Finance Committee recommending PhP 1-Billion for Health Promotion (HP) for the budget of the Department of Health in 2014. For the past year, health advocates have been stressing the importance of investing in health promotion.

According to Ms. Mercy Fabros of the Alternative Budget Initiative (ABI) Health Cluster, “Investing in preventive care saves thousands from pre-mature deaths and unnecessary illnesses. Ensuring a substantive budget for health promotion of at least PhP 1-Billion is a strategic step in preventive care. Our neighboring countries have already seen the value and impact of investing in health promotion and are reaping the benefits of this health measure. This growing list includes Thailand’s ThaiHealth Promotion Foundation, Singapore’s Health Promotion Board, and Malaysia’s MySihat Foundation. We must not allow our nation to get left behind.”

In the Philippines, the top four NCDs (lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, coronary artery disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) alone have been estimated to cost between PhP218B to Php461B in health care costs and productivity losses from premature death and from the disease themselves.1

“This is a welcome development that perfectly complements the government’s Kalusugang Pangkalahatan program,” says Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Project Director for the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA). “With more funding for HP, the government can empower ordinary people and communities to stay healthy, which is much more cost-effective than spending for treatment of diseases. Having a healthy population is also globally recognized as a cornerstone for social development and economic progress. We hope that the DOH National Center for Health Promotion will now scale up HP programs, so that our country can begin reaping the benefits of investing in cost-effective programs like tobacco control.”

“The time for health promotion is now,” says Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice, an organization that pushes for effective public health policies. “Spending to keep the population healthy is more cost-efficient than treating the sick. It is a wise investment for the future. At a minimal investment of ten pesos for every Filipino, we can have HP now. 10 pesos for every Filipino, 1 Billion for HP.” ###