At the San Dionisio Government Health Centre where Save the Children has trained the health staff and provided equipment for infants and newborn babies. Photo credit: Lucia Zoro/Save the Children

REAL Award winner Gloria Llegunas from Cebu, Philippines works for her local government’s Municipal Health Office as a Rural Health Midwife. Her work often times takes her to far-flung communities. She is so dedicated to her work she almost never has any time off from her duties. Aside from her main task of examining women for cervical cancer she also undertakes programs on child immunisation, pre and post-natal care, nutrition and reproductive health. The time and effort she puts into reaching women and girls in their communities is exceptional, and potentially life-saving.

As an advocate of both maternal and child health, she provides pre-natal care to expectant women and counsels new mothers on how they can take better care of themselves and their babies. Her work has led to her being called a ‘modern-day health hero ’ across the Philippines.

She says “Working as a rural health midwife in our municipal health office in Minglanilla allowed me to reach women in our community and save them from cervical cancer through the MDI project. It feels nice to be appreciated for the job you love and are dedicated to.”

Neonatal mortality rate  (per 1,000 live births) (2011) 12
Under-five mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) (2011) 25
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100,000 live births) (2010) 99
Number of doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 people (2010) 71.5
Births attended by skilled personnel (2008) 62.2%
Total expenditure on health as a percentage of gross domestic product (2011) 4.1%
General government expenditure on health as a percentage of total expenditure on health (2011) 33.3%

Health coverage is theoretically available to the entire population through the PhilHealth scheme. Funding for the scheme varies based on the population covered, although the majority of funds come from general taxation. The service delivery system is 61% private and 39% public. PhilHealth beneficiaries have access to a comprehensive package of services. The Philippines is the largest exporter of nurses worldwide. As a result of this “nurse brain drain,” the Philippine healthcare system has experienced challenges, including numerous hospital closures and high nurse turnover.

The majority of physicians (56%) are female. There are disparities in distribution of the health workforce. Some specific policies have been implemented to address the accessibility issue such as “The Nurses Assigned to Rural Service” program, or the “Doctors To The Barrios” programme.

Mechanisms for regulation and licensing of the health workforce are in place, but the evidence of accreditation for private nursing schools is scarce. A new National Database of Human Resources for Health Information System (NDHRHIS), that requires facilities to register their professionals in order to build a database of HRH, will attempt to address challenges in accessibility, acceptability, availability and quality of the health workforce.

Download the full country profile here.