State of health and access to medical careWith an average life expectancy below 70 years, the Philippines has one of the lowest life expectancies at birth in Southeast Asia in 2021, just above Cambodia. Ischaemic heart disease was identified as the leading cause of death, followed by cerebrovascular diseases and cancer. Filipinos are also prone to respiratory tract infections, hypertension, and diabetes, and have high cases of animal bites and skin diseases. These illnesses are exacerbated by the rising levels of obesity, prevalent among those between the age of 20 and 59. Meanwhile, smoking and binge drinking have been reportedly slowing down in recent years. Despite the nature of these diseases, the current healthcare approach leans more toward prescriptive than preventative care. Overall, spending on curative care accounted for over half of the current health expenditures, whereas spending on preventive care was just nine percent. Prior to the implementation of the universal healthcare law, Filipino households used to cover more than half of their health expenses out-of-pocket, which was a significant burden to low-income families. Because of this, some patients tend to seek alternative cures instead of seeking professional help.
Aside from lowering healthcare expenditures, the UHC aims to expand the presence of medical staff and facilities to address concerns about unequal access, especially in rural and far-flung areas. In 2021, there were over three thousand health centers nationwide, alongside nearly 22 thousand barangay health stations, and nearly two thousand hospitals. Increasing the ratio of medical staff to patients is also underway, as the figures remain disproportionate across regions.