CEBU CITY) Diseases and illnesses cost the Philippines around 3 to 4 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), highlighting the importance of investing in the health sector of the country and of other Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies in a bid to sustain economic development.
Peter Sheehan, research director at the Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies in Australia, cited the result of a study commissioned by the APEC Life Sciences Innovation Forum (LSIF) indicating the Philippine economic loss due to non-communicable diseases and poor mental health.
“The loss is currently about at 3-4 percent. We projected this to rise to about 6 percent by 2030, this is on the rising trajectory,” Sheehan said on the sidelines of a press briefing, noting these are just losses associated with absenteeism and presenteeism.
Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin underscored the need for member economies of APEC to promote good health in order to stimulate and sustain economic and social development.
“Good health allows citizens to reach their full productive potential, and the innovations that drive good health provide an economic return that is astounding,” she said at the opening of the 5th APEC High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy held here Sunday.
Garin also cited the results of an earlier LSIF study that showed a return of $30 to $1 for investment in innovation and innovative approaches to maternal and child health.
The health chief thus urged APEC member economies to work engage their budget and finance planners in their efforts to mitigate the social and economic effects of ill-health.
“Economic planning and finance communities look at health as a cost. I would like to posit that mental and physical well-being should be regarded as investments, without which will result in astronomical costs to governments, corporations and our citizens,” she added.
Garin believed that investing in health is critical for reducing poverty and promoting inclusive growth.
“As more people are forced to retire early because of ill-health, the economy will become less productive, social welfare budgets will be severely strained and our work to alleviate poverty will be undone rapidly as significant segments of the population are thrown back into poverty,” she noted.
For his part, DOH Undersecretary Kenneth Hartigan-Go said the Philippines is embarking on a plan to develope health facilities based on the needs of people in both rural and urban areas.
“…We got the sin tax law passed (so) there is now a quite substantive amount of money at the disposal of our health department and other government agencies to come together and develop a meaningful use of that money in order to bring better health outcome to our people,” he said.
The APEC is holding its Third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) and Related Meetings here until Sept. 6. PNA (ldv)