National Scale-Up of a Comprehensive Program for Improving the Care of Premature and Small Newborns in the Philippines Through the Introduction of a National Health Insurance Benefit Package

United Nations Children's Fund Philippines Country Office
Organization Location: 
Makati City, Philippines
Project Location: 

With a neonatal mortality rate of 13 deaths per 1,000 live births, almost half of all under-five child deaths in the Philippines are newborns. Out of those newborns who die, 60 percent succumb to complications brought about by prematurity and low birth weight. An estimated 75% of these preterm and small babies could survive if they had access to cost-effective interventions. 

The project will support the implementation of the care of the premature and small newborn strategy of the Philippines, via the roll-out of a new health insurance benefits package. This package, developed by the Philippine Health Insurance Company (Philhealth) and the Department of Health (DOH) with technical assistance from UNICEF, builds on other Philhealth packages for mothers and children and fills in particular gaps for the care of premature and small newborns. This project seizes an exceptional opportunity to rapidly scale up the coverage of comprehensive,evidence-based and equity-focused interventions for the target population. Prevention and management of preterm birth and low birth weight are covered under this package and will be provided with zero co-pay to the poorest 40% of the population. Through this project, UNICEF aims to rapidly build the capacity of 17 regional government and 10 private referral hospitals and their service delivery networks to meet Philhealth accreditation standards, via both supply and demand side interventions. 
By the end of this project, the team expects that 80 percent of the estimated annual 262,500 premature and small births in the catchment population will utilize the package. Long term, the project has the potential to catalyze universal coverage of life-saving interventions for premature and small newborns in the Philippines and contribute to further reductions of the newborn mortality rate by at least 50 percent.