The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly altered how the healthcare community works, including how the government responds to health emergencies, public health policies, and how industries transform.
“During the onslaught of COVID-19, there was a close collaboration between the private and public sectors to combat the pandemic,” noted Andreas Riedel, president and managing director of MSD in the Philippines. “And the role of patient groups, advocates, and the journalists was vital.”
Riedel was one of the speakers at the recent media enablement session titled, “Together for Health,” which seeks to help deepen journalists’ appreciation of relevant healthcare issues.
Hosted by the Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), in partnership with MSD in the Philippines and AC Health, the forum also delved on the importance of making health topics more accessible to the broader public.
Making healthcare a national agenda
Partnerships for health continue to be essential in managing ongoing challenges, anticipating and addressing health-related issues, and providing new opportunities to encourage health-seeking behaviors.
“Together for Health” underscores the importance of multisectoral collaboration in pushing for continuous progress in healthcare during and beyond the pandemic.
The event gathered health leaders, scientific experts, journalists, and patient groups to share insights and perspectives through an interactive panel discussion.
Hosted by broadcast journalist Jing Castañeda, the session tackled current trends, the impact and lessons of the pandemic on healthcare, and insights on the way forward.
Three areas that needed attention were also highlighted: vaccine hesitancy and misinformation; access to quality health services; and strategic tactics for pandemic recovery.
“Prevention is always the best investment when it comes to one’s health,” enthused Riedel. “COVID-19 will not be the last health crisis that will force us to come together and work as one.”
He also recognized the role of the media in informing, educating and guiding Filipinos especially in times of crises.
“By providing accurate and comprehensive health information, we can inspire people to take charge of their health and demand better healthcare policies,” said Riedel, which PHAP executive director Ted Padilla seconded.
“As we navigate the post-pandemic era, we encourage the media to remain our allies in promoting health literacy. Together, we can complement the efforts of our partners at the Department of Health in advancing medically verified information which can empower patients and create healthier communities,” added Padilla. “We believe that we can achieve this through collaborations and by making healthcare a national agenda.”
Collaboration is key
During the forum, experts cited three major areas that need to be prioritized: revisiting and strengthening public health systems, the universal health coverage, and making healthcare part of the national agenda.
“Collaboration across different sectors is key in ensuring that healthcare services are accessible and affordable for all Filipinos,” noted Paolo Borromeo, AC Health CEO and president. “Through partnerships, we can create innovative solutions and bring quality healthcare closer to communities in need.
Borromeo also emphasized how the pandemic exposed gaps and challenges in the healthcare system, how it forced collaboration among all stakeholders, and how it emphasized the need for continued investment in healthcare.
He also discussed the importance of PhilHealth and the need to recover and reinvigorate other public health priorities.
“The pandemic exposed major challenges in the system, and hopefully one by one, we’re addressing that in partnership with the government,” he noted.
While the pandemic brought about so many unprecedented challenges, it was also great to see how everyone came to work together — from patients to doctors, from the public to the private sector, from the media and ordinary citizens, everyone just came together to play their part in combating the disease.
“The collective effort we displayed has shown the power of solidarity and cooperation in terms of crisis,” Borromeo added. “Collaboration across different sectors is key.”
Indeed, now is an opportune time to evaluate the successes and continue to improve healthcare delivery for Filipinos.
“We have to move forward with a common resolve to shape a better future for healthcare,” noted Riedel. “Applying the heightened level of compassion, the same level of commitment and conviction to find solutions for current and future health scares must continue beyond the pandemic.”
It really takes a village to help shape a better future for (Philippine) healthcare. And so, let’s all continue to work together to make way for a “Healthy Pilipinas.”
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