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COVID-19 accelerated Universal Health Care Law implementation –Duque

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Friday that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted parts of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law that need to be "accelerated."

"This can also be some kind of parang blessing in disguise, serendipitous, kasi parang na-accelerate 'yung Universal Health Care because of COVID-19, it's a catalyst," Duque said at a webinar.

"Although COVID-19 did expose the fissures or the cracks, the weakness of our Philippine health system, it has brought to fore the areas, the provisions of universal health care that need to be accelerated in terms of its implementation," he added.

"Para sa akin, no regrets, andyan na 'yan, let's do our best. Let's broaden the context by which we are responding to the pandemic, and that context is the Universal Health Care."

The secretary made the statement in an online forum about the safety of healthcare workers. He also mentioned the One Hospital Command referral system for COVID-19 patients, and said there must be a "nexus" between local and national interventions.

"We need to synergize. We need to find areas of complementation, rather than areas of differences because this fight is a serious one," he said.

As for hospital operations, the official said non-COVID-19 patients should not be neglected.

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) last June recommended a general delay on the implementation of the UHC law over funding concerns.

Malacañang rejected the proposal and said it there was no legal basis for this.

The UHC law, which automatically enrolls all Filipino citizens to the National Health Insurance Program, was enacted in February 2019.

Health authorities recorded more than 180,000 COVID-19 cases in the country as of Friday afternoon. Nearly 65,000 of these are active cases. More than 2,900 patients have died. — DVM, GMA News