Health | World Health Organization Pushes for Universal Health Care

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Last Sunday September 15, 2019, World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines organized the first “Walk the Talk Manila: The Health for All Challenge” in Alabang as part of the global Health for All Challenge. The event brought together 2,000 people from all walks of life to highlight universal health care, while promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Participants ran, walked, wheeled, and biked in 3-kilometer, 5-kilometer, and 10-kilometer distances. The non-competitive event was open to all ages and abilities and was free-of-charge.  This writer joined the 10-kilometer bike ride within the grounds of Festival City.

Since 2018, WHO has led Walk the Talk events with participation from partners around the world. In May this year, WHO headquarters hosted the Walk the Talk in Geneva in parallel to the World Health Assembly, while the New York leg will be happening on 22 September 2019 on the eve of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the High-level Meeting (HLM) on UHC.

(From top left) DOH Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Honorable Rolando Enrique Domingo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr. Takeshi Kasai, and WHO Representative in the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe as they cheer for “Health for All!” together with the attendees of Walk the Talk Manila. PHOTO BY WHO / DONNA MARCOS

“Walk the Talk Manila is the first of its kind in the Philippines,” said acting WHO Representative in the Philippines Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe. “By coming together today, a week before the High-level Meeting on UHC, and the adoption of R.A. 11223 in the Philippines on UHC, WHO together with the Government of the Philippines is sending a strong message from Manila to New York that we are one with the global advocacy towards health for all.”

The Philippines will be sending delegates to the UNGA and the HLM, led by the Secretary of Health Francisco Duque III.

The Philippine Government, through the Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and local government units, has been leading the way since the enactment of the landmark Universal Health Care (UHC) Act or Republic Act No. 11223 on 20 February 2019. The landmark measure showed the political commitment of the Philippines to provide access to quality health care for all Filipinos, without suffering financial hardship. The law automatically enrolls all Filipinos in the National Health Insurance Program and prescribes complementary reforms in the health system. Among the significant reforms proposed under this law, are lowering of out-of-pocket health expenses and improvement of health services and facilities.

WHO supported the DOH, PhilHealth and the Philippine Congress during the legislative process of the UHC Act. WHO is also supporting the DOH and PhilHealth as they finalize the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the law as well as the operations of the UHC integration sites.

In the end, the participants were in high spirits as the well abled cheered the participants who were abled differently.  It was a joy seeing them finish their respective categories.

PHOTO BY: WHO / DONNA MARCOS
**** cover photo by WHO/ Princess Guzman