Press Release
May 12, 2012


Senator Edgardo J. Angara said more public funds and resources should be directed towards improving the health and well-being of Filipinos during his speech at the presentation of a paper on financing universal healthcare by Dr. Ramon P. Paterno for the UP President Edgardo J. Angara (UPPEJA) Fellowship.

"We ought to worry more about the well-being of our people, and the downward, depreciating pressures poor health puts on our human capital," said Angara, author of the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) Act, which created Philhealth. "The biggest weakness we still face in public health is still financing."

According to the World Health Report 2010, 150 million people across the globe suffer financial catastrophe upon availing of health services. In the Philippines, out-pocket share for medical needs amounts to 54.3 percent, while government funding and social insurance covers for only 26.2 percent and 8.5 percent respectively.

Angara, vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, urged government to increase its tax efforts to better fund its health programs. "A large segment of our population is unhealthy and therefore less productive. How do you expect our tax base to increase?"

He continued, "I think the best source of funding for universal health care is the revenue we get from our public lotteries, gaming and charity sweepstakes. Many other countries--whether it's America, in Europe or in Japan--the lottery is principal source of funding for public hospitals. What we need is to institute further a policy where the profits from lotteries and public gaming actually support our public health programs.

"In the next ten years, PAGCOR [Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation] will be generating perhaps almost P150 billion in revenues," emphasized the veteran lawmaker. "Right now, a portion goes to government coffers. But the remaining portion--where does that go? It is better if it goes good causes like the health of our people. Better that we do it now."

Established during UP's centennial year in 2008, the UPPEJA Fellowship is currently the largest financial grant available for high-level research on the country's development goals and policies, particularly in the areas of science and technology; fiscal, budget and financial studies; agriculture and rural development; environment and climate change.

The fund was created in honor of Angra, who served as UP president from 1981 to 1987. It was initially endowed with P50 million contributed by his family and friends. From this seed fund, each of the Angara Fellows are provided with a P500,000 research grant.

The first batch of Angara Fellows are Prof. Raul Fabella of the UP School of Economics; Prof. Raul Pangalangan of the UP College of Law, Prof. Ramon Pedro Paterno of the Institute of Health Policy and Development Studies in UP Manila; and Prof. Gerardo P. Sicat of the UP School of Economics.

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