Partners’ HPSR report – 2021
There are 47 HPSR-related institutions identified in the Philippines, with a sizeable proportion based in and around Metro Manila. The majority – more than 70% – are university-based, with the remainder composed of local NGOs, independent research centres and think tanks and health service providers.
HPSR has helped to shape health policy in the Philippines. Recent experience suggests, for example, an important role for HPSR in shaping national policies on mental health and food safety. HPSR-related studies have also been conducted on COVID-19 policies. Successful strategies regarding policy include the utilization of technology, the identification of specific mechanisms to improve policy implementation, coordination with government agencies and the community, and a capacity building programme. However, effective evaluation of health policies remains dependent upon their full implementation and enforcement. While HPSR training was severely hampered in 2020 by the constraints imposed as a result of COVID-19, HPSR policy engagement increased, with researchers sharing their expertise on key policy areas.
Institutions by type
List of HPSR institutions
Only eight HPSR reports were produced for the year 2020, and these focused mainly on addressing policy gaps during the COVID-19 pandemic. Faculty members of academic institutions had opportunities to share their expert opinion on policies for testing, contact tracing, transport and public health. Policy outcomes included contributions to the development of the COVID-19 health protocols, the establishment of public transport capacity levels and of quarantine centres, and an algorithm for testing (among others). Other areas addressed in 2020 included those on mental health and food safety.
Average number of reports produced per institution each year in the Philippines and overall
Engaging policy-makers and the public
The commitment of key national agencies to strengthen health research in the Philippines has been institutionalized by the Philippine National Health Research System Act of 2013 (RA 10532) and is operationalized by the National Unified Health Research Agenda (2017-2022).
Support for HPSR was augmented through the creation of the Health Policy and Systems Research Management (HSRM) in 2015 by the Department of Health (DOH) to support evidence-based policy-making and the establishment of partnerships with research institutions, aiming to expand the capacity for research. One of its main outputs has been the Medium Term Health Policy and Systems Research Management (HSRM) Agenda 2015, which identified knowledge gaps on health equity and service delivery, and outlined strategies for the achievement of development goals. Building on the accomplishments of the HSRM, the Advancing Health through Evidence-Assisted Decisions with Health Policy and Systems Research (AHEAD-HPSR) Programme was established to augment the strategy to implement the medium-term health policy and systems research agenda of the DOH.
Many examples of the policy influence of HPSR in 2020 were related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the faculty of academic institutions were able to share their expertise regarding policies on testing, contact tracing, transport, and public health interventions and were able to reach a wider audience, including policy-makers, to help shape and refine policies.
As noted above, policy outcomes included the development of the COVID-19 health protocols, the setting of rules for public transport capacity, the establishment of quarantine centres and an algorithm for the testing and management of patients. Other policies that were tackled in 2020 included those on Mental Health and Food Safety.
Strategies that have contributed to policy success include the utilization of technology and the identification of specific mechanisms to improve policy implementation; coordination with and across government agencies and the community; and providing a capacity building programme to support these strategies. There are, however, challenges related to the full implementation and enforcement of health policies – vital for any assessment of their effectiveness and of the need for any further research or re-evaluation.
Average number of meetings held with policy-makers per institution each year in the Philippines and overall
Average number of media articles published per institution each year in the Philippines and overall
Academic and institutional capacity
While there is HPSR training in the country, it is very limited in terms of the number of participants, international partnership and frequency. HPSR training was severely hampered in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic, in marked contrast to the previous year when it is estimated that more than 180 students were enrolled on reported short courses. Some courses identified through a manual search did not provide information on the number of participants. Government training initiatives are usually carried out in partnership with an academic institution or NGO and no quotas for training are set by local governments.
Total number of HPSR faculty and staff
Total number of participants in HPSR-related short courses
The Philippines’ national health research budget from the government stood at around US$ 51 million from 2018 to 2020. Health research at national level is funded primarily by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of Health (DOH). The DOST-PCHRD is the national coordinating body for health research and is mandated to strengthen and develop capacity for health research by formulating agenda, plans, policies and strategies, and mobilizing resources to support health research in the country.
Under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) Budget, DOST-PCHRD was allotted around US$ 12 million in 2018. This increased to US$ 12.73 million and US$ 12.75 million in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
For the DOH, the health policy and systems research budget is housed under the Health Policy and Development and Planning Bureau. This, in turn, comes under Organizational Outcome 1: Access to Promotive and Preventive Health Care Services Improved. The programme is comprised of International Health Policy Development, Health Sector Policy and Plan Development, and Health Sector Research Development. In 2018, around US$ 4.3 million was allotted, rising to US$ 4.5 million for each of the fiscal years 2019 and 2020.
The main international funders for health interventions in the Philippines include the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and USAID, among others. However, there is limited publicly accessible data on international funding streams dedicated specifically to health research.
Total institutional expenditure
Credits and disclaimers
Partners’ health policy and systems research report, 2021
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