In a bid to attract additional investment, The Department of Health (DOH) in the Philippines has streamlined the process for setting up hospitals and other medical facilities.
A recent administrative order signed by Health Secretary Ted Herbosa eliminated the requirement for a Certificate of Need (CON). This applies for any new hospital or medical facility.
Why the Change?
Previously, an old department administrative order (DAO) mandated the need for a CON. Issued in March 2006, the old DAO deterred investment in healthcare, particularly from the private sector, due to additional layers of red tape.
Stagnant Health Metrics
Herbosa noted that despite a 33% increase in bed capacity from 2004 to 2022, the bed-to-population ratio has remained unchanged at one bed per 1,000 people. This poses a serious concern as it could severely limit Filipinos’ access to appropriate healthcare services.
With the removal of the CON, all general hospitals must now only secure authorization from the DOH. They are also required to meet the licensing standards set by the Health Facilities and Regulatory Bureau and the Food and Drug Administration.
A Medical Perspective: What This Means for Healthcare in Asia
The decision by the DOH aims to combat the static bed-to-population ratio by reducing barriers to entry in the healthcare sector. This is particularly significant as healthcare needs continue to grow, not just in the Philippines but across Asia.
The Bed-to-Population Ratio Problem
The bed-to-population ratio is an important metric in healthcare. A static ratio suggests that while the population has grown, healthcare facilities haven’t kept pace. A ratio of one bed per 1,000 people is alarming from a medical standpoint, as it shows a shortage in essential health infrastructure.
Expediting Health Investments
The removal of the CON is a positive move towards increasing healthcare investment. This should serve as a model for other Asian countries grappling with similar issues. Regulations often hinder the quick establishment of medical facilities, leading to gaps in healthcare access.
Raising the Bar for Quality
Though the regulations have eased, hospitals still need to adhere to standards set by health authorities. This will ensure that while the process becomes easier, the quality of healthcare does not suffer.
A Regional Outlook
Healthcare demand is soaring across Asia due to ageing populations and the rising burden of chronic diseases. Policies that speed up the development of healthcare facilities are not just a win for the Philippines but can set a precedent for other countries in the region.
This change in policy is a major step towards increasing the number of hospitals and healthcare facilities in the Philippines, subsequently increasing the bed-to-population ratio. By simplifying the establishment process, the country is paving the way for better healthcare access for its citizens and possibly setting an example for healthcare reform across Asia.
With this move, the Philippine government is not just reacting to current healthcare needs but also proactively preparing for future challenges. The DOH has acknowledged the glaring issues in healthcare provision and taken a bold step to address them.
With better access to quality healthcare, the future looks more promising for Filipinos and possibly for the entire Asian region.