Philippines in Steepest Drop in Health Spending

Apr. 30, 2007

MANILA — Health spending experienced possibly the steepest drop under the Arroyo administration and this has forced Filipinos to pay more for badly needed health services, according to independent think-tank IBON Foundation.

According to IBON research head Sonny Africa, national and local governments share in total health expenditure was 40.6% in 2000 but fell by over 10 percentage points to just 30.3% by 2004. This forced Filipinos to make up the difference from private sources, particularly from out-of-pocket spending.

This observation was validated by the latest Philippine national health accounts, which showed that between 2000 and 2004, government spending on health fell from 41% of total spending to 30%, while out-of-pocket spending grew from 41% to 47 percent.

Africa added that real government health spending per Filipino fell by 18.6% from 2001 (P212.66 per capita) to 2005 (P173). Although allocations for health had started to recover since then, health budgets are still not enough to provide a decent standard of health care for Filipinos, particularly for the poorest families.

Meanwhile, he said, government is cutting allocations to state hospitals as part of a de facto privatization program while commercializing health services, further pushing health care out of the reach of the poorest Filipinos. Thus, it should not be surprising that one of every two Filipinos dies without ever receiving medical attention, Africa said.

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