Given the country’s 90 million population spread over 7,100 islands, the Philippines needs to develop a health system that functions well across the many geographic regions and diverse cultures. The devolution of the health system 20 years ago transferred powers and budgets from the Department of Health to over 1,600 autonomous municipalities and cities. This fragmentation resulted in poor knowledge flows to the frontline health workers, which now hampers access to health services. On the other hand, there are 280,000 underemployed nurses that are a potent resource for addressing these gaps who have yet to be mobilized.

Quality maternal care, infant care, and tuberculosis services remain uneven in the country, varying from one town to the next. Maternal mortality is the Millennium Development Goal target the Philippines is least likely to be attained by 2015. The central government is aggressively pushing for Universal Health Care and aims to cover an additional 45 million Filipinos with adequate health care by 2016.

ACCESS Health Philippines aims to advance Universal Health Care in the country by: a) incubating health enterprises that will provide services in the market; b) cultivate innovations through collaboration with industry, academia and government, and; c) develop a network of service delivery partners that will serve as channels for services and knowledge through the country’s 1,600 autonomous municipalities and cities.

ACCESS Health Philippines works through a partnership approach, co-creating value with well-established local partners. In partnership with the Ayala Foundation’s Technology Business Incubator to accelerate the development of health ventures that will address gaps in health services through relevant and commercially scalable health services. With the Asian Institute of Management in the Philippines, ACCESS Health facilitates implementation research and policy advocacy in telehealth with a particular focus on maternal health and geriatrics. Cellphone-based telehealth solutions are being tested with field practitioners as part of this action research partnership. ACCESS Health Philippines is also a partner in the 162 to 52 Coalition, a coalition of civil society, private sector, and government partners that aim to bring maternal mortality rate from 162 to 52 death per 100,000 births.

Taking advantage of the power of social media, ACCESS Health Philippines is building an online platform to engage volunteers to participate in advancing Universal Healthcare. The online platform targets the 10,000 young nurses employed every year by the Ministry of Health and equip them as they take up roles in community-level health programs. ACCESS Health Philippines draws from the knowledge resources developed locally, as well as from the knowledge-bases developed by the Joint Learning Network, Center for Health Market Innovations , and other ACCESS Health offices.