Barangay workers play crucial role in improving healthcare, says Unilab

By KC Santos

MAKATI CITY, METRO MANILA – Barangay health workers play an important role in improving the country’s healthcare system, according to pharmaceutical company United Laboratories (Unilab).

“The healthcare system in the country is so inefficient (because to me) it is practically non-existent. If it does, it's unfortunately either inaccessible or overly expensive,” said Jose Maria Ochave, Corporate Vice-President for Business Development Group at United Laboratories (Unilab).

Ochave, one of the panelists at the Philippine Development Forum, said Unilab considers full utilization of the role of barangay health workers to aid the company in its point-of-care diagnostic efforts that will bring medical testing nearer to the location of the patients.

“By way of doing this, we also provide additional skills and more importantly added income for these barangay health workers,” Ochave said.

Ochave further said aside from barangay heatlh workers companies like Unilab also need farmers and local plant scientists in the assessment of natural healthcare products.

“This is where the role of farmers and plant scientists come in, to help develop or screen these natural products,” Ochave said.

Some educational institutions such as the University of the Philippines, Los Baños (UPLB) have a number of qualified plant scientists to assume the important role.

“By taking healthcare down to the base of the pyramid, we put down the costs of medical products and services which are important because the poor should have equal rights to quality health care systems,” he said.

Ochave added that Unilab is not exempt from not having enough financial resources to develop a pharmaceutical product unless investors come in and take interest. He added that a particular product requires at least 13 years of study before it can be endorsed to the market.

The long gestation period for product research and development (R&D) requires millions of dollars to be completed, he added.

Life sciences and health were major strategic areas for development discussed during the recent Philippine Development Forum.

***

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