“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”
I just attended the opening ceremonies of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians (PAFP) Annual Convention. This year’s theme, “The Family Physician: C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N. of Filipino Families”, aptly describes the mission of the academy. In a nutshell, the acronym C.H.A.M.P.I.O.N. signifies doctors who share Common values whose Collaborative efforts result in the creation of Health Policies that benefit others in an atmosphere of Academic Excellence. Family doctors must also Manage health care resources as Primary gatekeepers practicing cost-effective care without compromising Patient Safety. Information Technology is also utilized to deliver Overall holistic care, with New knowledge being generated through research studies.
While the mission is full of idealism and passion for the healing art, the question still remains: Can Health And Medicine Persevere Inspite Of Negativity? Are our dreams of a better country hopeless in the face of the brain drain that still prevails, luring the best and the brightest doctors of the land to practice outside the Philippines?
In my opinion, here are the steps that must be taken to truly upgrade our health care system.
1. COMPENSATION for physicians must improve. Our doctors only earn an average of Php 20,000 ($450) a month. And I say AVERAGE, which means some earn even less on a monthly basis. Call center agents earn even more than some physicians.
2. HMOs must bring their act together. Our health maintenance organizations have policies that leave much to be desired – late payments, low coverage amounts for members, and too much meddling on the private practices of doctors. Hopefully, HMOs can become more accessible to the general public, and be more physician-friendly.
3. ACADEMIC overhaul. The Philippine Medical Act of 1959 is now outdated. We must start rethinking policies on Medical Education, Physician licensure, and the practice of medicine in the country.
4. MEDICINES and drugs must be closely monitored. The Cheaper Medicines Act needs some rethinking. A lot of the generics drug out in the market are sadly lacking in bioequivalence studies. The Food and Drug Administraion must look out for companies producing substandard drugs.
5. PARTNERSHIPS must be strengthened. The government and private sector must work hand in hand to improve the health care referral system. Doctors must also learn the art and science of relating to fellow doctors, government institutions, and political leaders.
6. INSTITUTIONS offering health care must be provided the attention it deserves through better funding. The national budget allocates a mere 3% for health care. It is not enough to keep our government hospitals and health centers clean, safe, and efficient.
7. OVERCOME OBSTACLES in preventive care. Immunization is just one aspect of disease prevention. More important is patient education. A major obstacle to progress is lack of knowledge. We must empower communities to be responsible for keeping their constituents in the pink of health.
8. NATIONALISM must be strengthened. We must love our country and its people. In particular, if the government subsidizes a doctor’s education, it is but right for the doctor to give back to the community. Our patriotic duty to this country must be balanced with our need to progress and prosper.
In the final analysis, to be a champion, we must not just plan. We must act. Our plans may not be perfect, but action beats inaction. After all, champions are crafted once they step into the field of battle to gain experience, not when they are asked to sit back and watch.