Cementing the Role of HTA in the Philippines

by Alia Cynthia G. Luz
Category : Others

After a series of catalytic changes in the Philippine healthcare decision-making landscape. The Philippines successfully launched their first health technology assessment (HTA) process and methods guidelines on September 21, 2020. The main purpose of it project is to support the HTA process, prioritise topics and generate evidence and methodologies that will feed into the health benefits package. Moreover, these guidelines will work as a standard benchmark for both public and private sector according to the Philippines department of health administrative order.

Senate approval photo

Conferees of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Philippines headed by Representative Angelina Tan and Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, respectively (seated, second and third from left) give the “thumbs up” sign together with officials and staff of the Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Senate, House, and WHO on 27 November 2018 after reconciling House Bill 5784 and Senate Bill 1896, the precursors of the Universal Health Care Act. Photo: Senate of the Philippines

With an aim to provide healthcare and protect all Filipinos from the risk of catastrophic healthcare expenditure, the Philippine government signed the Universal Healthcare Law in February 2019. HTA was one of the clauses in this law, paving the way to the inclusion of evidence in the decision-making process. Subsequently, the HTA Council, which is the legally mandated body tasked with facilitating the HTA institutionalisation and process, appraising HTA studies and evidence, and creating policy recommendations, was officially formed. The HTA Unit (HTAU) is the secretariat and technical body supporting the HTAC and their work. Since then, the HTAC and HTAU have supported an economic evaluation of HIV/AIDS screening for pregnant women, a reassessment of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), rapid assessments of COVID-19 interventions as well as non-COVID-19 pharmaceuticals, and are now starting the groundwork with a series of webinars to target audiences across the country to raise awareness on HTA and facilitate the involvement of various stakeholders.

The International Decision Support Initiative (iDSI) and HITAP have buoyed these developments, even before the passing of the law. Engagements with the Philippines started in 2012, with the first economic evaluation of PCV as well as HPV. Trainings, networking events and efforts, and joint projects have been facilitated over the years, notably the evidence appraisal training for the HTAC in October 2020 as well as the ongoing support for the HIV/AIDS study, the PCV reassessment, as well as the stakeholder consultations and meetings for HTA institutionalisation, including those for the process and methods guidelines.

With their own initiatives, the Philippines is raising the political, social, and technical support for evidence and HTA use in the country. The PCV reassessment, in particular, is remarkable given its inclusion of ethical, legal, social, health system implications (ELSHI) analyses, setting an example for other HTA agencies in the region and beyond. This is definitely a space worth watching in the future.

*Note: The process and method guidelines can be accessed in the Philippine Department of Health website as well the Guide to Economic Analysis and Research (GEAR) Online Resource.

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