HEALTH INEQUITY PANDEMIC
Author: Hans Jesper F. Del Mundo
The gross inequality in people’s health status, particularly between developed and developing countries as well as within them, is politically, socially and economically unacceptable (Alma Ata Declaration, 1978). However, this is still a common concern in many countries, especially in my country, the Philippines.
The Philippine Health Agenda under the Duterte administration currently aspires to create a health system providing financial protection and better health outcomes and responsiveness. In line with financial protection, Filipinos—especially the poor, marginalized and vulnerable—should be protected from high health care costs, but this is still far from reality for most Filipinos. Life expectancy, infant mortality rates and maternal mortality rates differ across geographic and economic regions in the Philippines. In other words, grave inequities persist in the health status of Filipinos. This is despite recurrent efforts by all past administrations to address the unfair and unjust inequalities in access to health by the majority of poor people. Individuals who live in prosperous regions and communities generally live longer than those in isolated and poorly developed parts of the country.
The Philippine healthcare system is two-tiered and consists of public or state-run system and a private system, but with a wide gap between them. Health human resource development is still not based on need, primary level care is underdeveloped, medicine prices remain high and quality healthcare remains inaccessible and impoverishing. Poor-quality and undignified care is attributed to public clinics and hospitals due to long waiting times; limited autonomy to choose providers; less-than-hygienic restrooms; a lack of amenities, privacy and confidentiality; poor record-keeping; and overcrowding. Additionally, the Philippines is still