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DOH transfers HTA operations to DOST

The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday turned over Health Technology Assessment (HTA) operations to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) as mandated under the Universal Health Care (UHC) law.

Based on the UHC law, the HTA Council (HTAC) shall be an independent entity separate from the DOH five years after its establishment in 2019, and fully transition to the DOST by 2024.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the HTAC reviewed all vaccines rolled out in the Philippines.

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire clarified that other than the HTAC transitioning to the DOST and becoming an independent body, there would be no other major changes.

“It’s just so that we are trying to achieve that objective that HTAC becomes independent. If you take note, the DOH was initially overseeing the processes of HTAC, and the DOH also serves as the end-user of HTAC and the decision-maker. So, for us to be able to have that kind of independence that there are no biases and we become more transparent, the goal of UHC Law is to make HTAC independent,” she explained at a press conference.

With this, both agencies will work together on their mandates, capacity building, and overall continuity of the current efforts of HTAC under the leadership of HTAC Chairperson Dr. Marita Reyes.

Under DOST, the HTA Research Network would be established, further strengthening the country's HTA capacity by partnering with external entities to help develop and implement training programs and conduct HTAs.

Advancing the conduct of assessments of health technologies at the early stages of clinical research and guiding the innovation development process are also among the network's goals.

“We will really establish HTA networks so that we can hasten the capacity building, and obviously, also hasten the process. That’s the goal… of HTAC. My role is to facilitate their effectiveness and efficiency in their operations,” DOST Secretary Renato Solidum Jr. said. — DVM, GMA Integrated News