December 15, 2017
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) underscored its support to the Philippine health care systems in light of the recent forum in Tokyo affirming Japan's commitment to poverty alleviation by ensuring equitable and improved access to quality health care services.
The forum focusing on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) brings together other development agencies World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank, UNICEF, and UHC 2030 this month tackling issues on UHC and medical care.
"The experience of JICA in the Philippines particularly in strengthening maternal and child health systems in remote, poor areas is an example that can be replicated in other areas. The cooperation, which we implemented in the Cordillera and in Eastern Visayas, helped reduce maternal deaths significantly and encouraged pregnant women to enroll in health insurance," explained JICA Senior Representative Ayumi Ohshima.
"The cooperation is a good model on tapping community-based interventions, training health workers on recording health data, and utilizing health insurance to improve health care."
Cited as among the 2017 recipients of the JICA President Award, honoring organizations for the positive results of JICA activities, the cooperation ‘Strengthening for Local Health System for Effective and Efficient Delivery of Maternal and Child Health Services' (2012-2017) helped reduced maternal mortality rate in the Cordillera to 45 for every 100,000 live childbirths in 2015 from 62-71 in the previous years.
Under the project, insurance enrollment rate of Filipino pregnant women in project sites increased to 79% on the fourth year, from mere 50% during the project's second year.
A JICA data collection survey completed in 2016 also cited UHC as among the key areas where JICA can further assist the Philippines in enhancing access to quality health care and safeguarding people from public health risks.
As part of JICA's commitment to UHC initiatives in the Philippines, the bilateral aid agency also dispatched this year a group of Department of Health (DOH) personnel to train in Japan where participants learned Japan's experience on UHC under a Knowledge Co-Creation Program – Group and Region Focus this year.
"We'd like to continue working with the Philippines in ensuring that all people have equal access to quality health care. With this, we can help realize inclusive development and protect people from poverty," added Ohshima.
Japan was one of the first countries to achieve UHC in 1961 protecting its citizens with a social health insurance. Under a "Health for All" agenda, JICA moves to share its experiences with development partners like the Philippines to reduce poverty and boost economic development in low and middle income countries.