Philippines: Study visit on sustainable funding mechanism for Health promotion

Bangkok—19 July 2012: the Southeast Asia Initiative on Tobacco Tax(SITT)/SEATCA in cooperation with HealthJustice, Philippines and the Thaihealth Promotion Foundation organized a two-day study visit for the Philippines, specifically, for the executive and legislative branches of government.  The meetings were held to learn from Thailand’s pioneering experience on Health promotion, its’ mechanisms, lessons and best practices.  It also helped facilitate exchange of information on Universal Health Care systems in the region and international movement, and roles of countries on the growing threat of NCD’s. Discussions and planning on how to utilize sin taxes in the Philippines based on Thailand’s lessons were also held.

 Dr. Krissada Ruengareerat, CEO of Thaihealth welcomed the group, and briefly presented  an overview of Thaihealth’s work.Dr. Prakit Vathesatogkit, Seretary General of the International Network of Health Promotion Foundations (INHPF), shared his experience in the field of Health promotions the past ten years, and why countries must establish a Health Promotion Fund.

 Other speakers were, Dr. Supreda Adulyanon, Deputy CEO of Thaihealth, Dr. Weerawat Phankrut and Dr. Yongyuth Pongsupap, of the National Health Security Office, Dr. Suwit Wibulpolprasert, senior advisor, Ministry of Health, and Ms. Jintana Jankhotkaew, from CAPS.

 Assistant Secretary of the Department for Health, Philippines, Dr. Paulyn  Ubial expressed appreciation on behalf of the Philippine government, for hosting the delegates, and in helping pave the way for the country to learn and duplicate the health systems working in Thailand, for the benefit of the Filipino people.

Delegates to the study visit were aside from Asec. Ubial were Ms Ma. Lourdes M. Sanchez, Chief of the Committee on Health Secretariat, House of Representatives; Ms Marvee Anne C. Felipe, Senior Legislative Staff, Office of Senator Pia Cayetano; Ms Maria Sophia B. Varlez, Senior Manager, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and Ms Cristina “Amy” Martinez, Legal Consultant, HealthJustice.  Also on hand were SITT/SEATCA Project director, Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo and SEATCA director Bungon Ritthiphakdee.

 The Philippines is currently in the midst of putting in place reforms to strengthen tax regimes, and to hopefully set up sustainable funding mechanisms for health promotion utilizing sin taxes.