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The Planetary and Global Health Program (PGHP) of the St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine–William H. Quasha Memorial (SLMCCM-WHQM) enters into a research collaboration with the Centre of Regulatory Excellence (CoRE) of the Duke-NUS Medical School, SingHealth Duke–NUS Global Health Institute (SDGHI), and Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health (SSHSPH) of the National University of Singapore to conduct a two-year study investigating patient engagement in the Philippine health system, particularly in the areas of access to health care and essential health products, during the era of Universal Health Care (UHC) and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines patient engagement as “the process of building the capacity of patients, families, carers, as well as health care providers, to facilitate and support the active involvement of patients in their own care, in order to enhance safety, quality and people-centredness of health care service delivery”. In recent decades, there has been a growing attention towards engaging patients in health care, including in the Philippines where the UHC agenda and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for including their voices and perspectives. Patient communities seeking broader involvement in healthcare policy- and decision-making have adopted the adage, “nothing about us, without us”, which echoes the role of patients as co-producers in the health system.
This collaborative study will employ qualitative research methods involving literature and policy reviews, key informant interviews, and focus group discussions to investigate the current status, policies, practices, and nuances of patient engagement in the Philippine health system.
This project is co-led by three co-investigators – the Philippine team is led by Dr. Renzo Guinto, PGHP Director, while the Singapore team is co-led by Professor John Lim of CORE and SDGHI and Associate Professor Natasha Howard of SSHSPH. The project is supported by a joint funding initiative – the Global Health Research in Asia Award – between SDGHI and SSHSPH.
“Achieving equity in health requires meaningful patient engagement,” said Dr. Guinto. “This study intends to assess whether the needs and interests of all kinds of patients are represented and valued in the design and implementation of health policies in the Philippines.”
According to Dr. Jake Bryan Cortez, research fellow for the project: “Patient engagement goes beyond the clinician-patient dyad, which usually revolves around health education and counseling. More importantly, it is also about empowerment, representation, participation, and creating a health system that fosters such forms of engagement, either as an individual patient or a collective.”
The results of this study are hoped to inform the development of future health policies in the Philippines that are patient-centered as well as a framework for patient engagement that can be adopted by other countries in the Southeast Asian region.