Healthcare to the Philippines

Trends and opportunities

The market

In 2016, the Philippines' health expenditure reached AUD 18.5 billion, equating to five per cent of GDP and AUD 192 per capita. (Source: BMI, ‘Philippines Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Report – Q4 2017’).

The current administration is aiming to expand coverage of the Philippines universal healthcare scheme from 92 per cent in 2015 to 100 per cent enrolment by 2022. (Source: Sunstar, “Access to healthcare in the Philippines”, 8 August 2017). National programs revolve around malnutrition, reproductive health, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, with a renewed focus on non-communicable disease (NCDs), mental disorders and drug resistance.

The 2016-2022 Philippine Health Agenda, ACHIEVE, aims to:

  • Advance primary care and quality
  • Cover all Filipinos against financial catastrophe
  • Harness power of strategic health human resource
  • Invest in digital health and data for decision-making
  • Enforce standards, accountability and transparency
  • Value clients and patients
  • Elicit multi-sector, multi-stakeholder support for health

The private sector plays a key role in advancing healthcare in the Philippines, accounting for 63.9 per cent of the total healthcare expenditure (AUD 11.8 billion). Whilst their private human, financial and technological resources are much more significant, they only cater to 30 per cent of the entire population. (Source: BMI, ‘Philippines Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare Report – Q4 2017’).

Private healthcare services are well-established and growing in Philippines through specialist clinics, private hospitals and satellite clinics in commercial establishments and malls. Four of these private healthcare institutions are accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI):

  • Asian Hospital and Medical Center
  • Makati Medical Center
  • St. Luke’s Medical Center- Global City
  • St. Luke’s Medical Center- Quezon City
  • The Medical City

A number of mergers, alliances and acquisitions have taken place in the past year with two of the major hospital operators actively expanding throughout the country:

  • Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, the healthcare arm of Metro Pacific Investment Corporation (MPIC) Group of Companies, owns and operates thirteen 110-bed hospitals in Metro Manila and the provinces. In line with the company’s plans to acquire a dozen hospitals in the country by 2019 to expand MPIC’s nationwide chain of private hospitals beyond Manila, it has purchased nine secondary and tertiary hospitals across the country. It closed the first half of 2017 with a core profit of AUD 23 million, up 21 per cent from a year earlier.
  • The Ayala group noted healthcare as the next “major new growth area” for the conglomerate. Over the next five years, it aims to build a chain of hospitals and satellite clinics under the QualiMed brand catering to the mass market, including 10 QualiMed hospitals operating in mixed-use communities and 10 clinics located in various retail developments. The consortium has committed to spend AUD 125 million in strategic locations nationwide by 2020 to expand the QualiMed Health Network.

The Philippines is a major producer of healthcare workers. According to the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC), yearly the Philippines licence:

  • 2,600 Physicians
  • 67,000 Nurses
  • 3,900 Midwives
  • 1,400 Medical technologists.

Medical practitioners in the Philippines are mostly graduates from the top universities of the country and most of them have studied abroad. A large portion of the Filipinos studying in Australia are in the healthcare field (12 per cent of Filipino VET students and 44% of higher education students).

Opportunities

Healthcare Training

The Philippines is one of the world’s largest exporters of talent and labour, with over two million Filipinos living and working overseas in 2016.

Australia still remains a preferred destination for international studies with 10,646 enrolments in Australia in 2016. (Source: MIP Orbis). A number of successful transnational partnerships have also been established to support the delivery of Australian courses in the Philippines.

With the on-going demand for healthcare workforce internationally and the growing local sector, we foresee further opportunities for Australian education providers to deliver courses in Australia and the Philippines, including in specialised fields such as aged care, mental health, occupational health.

Complementary Medicine

Vitamins and dietary supplements grew by 6 per cent in 2016 to reach an impressive sales value of AUD 600 million. Filipino consumers seek high quality products and increasingly demand for health supplements as a result of improved disposable incomes, living standards, rising consumer awareness about health and wellness, higher level of environmental pollution as well as the increasingly hectic and stressful pace of modern life in the country.

Senior and Assisted Living

This is still an emerging sector but there are opportunities to get a first mover advantage by working with real estate developers and major conglomerates on developing services for the expat community and premium end of the market. Opportunities exist in partnerships and knowledge transfer in skills development, specialist management and consulting services and facilities design.

Health Aid Programs

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been funding health-related projects in the Philippines, including for the health sector development reform and disaster management.

The Philippines is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries being hit by an average of 20 typhoons every year, as well as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis.

Australia has developed sophisticated preparation, mitigation, response and recovery capabilities that are recognised globally. Opportunities exist for relevant Australian companies to conduct capacity building and knowledge sharing in the areas of governance, partnerships and private sector development.

Tariffs, regulations and customs

The implementation of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) is helping to strengthen Australia’s commercial ties with the Philippines. In particular, the reduction or elimination of existing tariffs has resulted in substantial new markets for Australian companies.

See the AANZFTA Tariff Finder for more information on applicable tariffs.

The Philippines also shifted from export value to the transaction value system of import valuation, in compliance with the World Trade Organization Agreement on customs valuation. The transaction value system looks at the price agreed upon by the buyer and seller, including other payments made by the buyer for the goods as purchased.

The Philippines Bureau of Customs took over the function of monitoring shipments on 1 April 2000 with the lapse of the contract between the Philippine Government and Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS). SGS is the leading organisation in verification, testing, and certification in the world, and is recognised as the global benchmark for the highest standards of expertise, quality and integrity.

An electronic clearance system, Super Green Lane, has replaced the pre-shipment inspection service provided by SGS. The Super Green Lane is a fully-automated, ship-to-truck clearance system that accords advance processing for qualified shipments.

Registration

All complementary medicines and medical devices exported to the Philippines for sale should be registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Philippines. A Certificate of Goods Manufacturing Practice issued by a Government Health Agency and authenticated by the Territorial Philippine Consulate is also required. Cosmetic products that contain active or restricted ingredients are required to seek registration and undergo laboratory testing before being sold locally.

FDA evaluates applications for registration in terms of absence of non-permissible substances, compliance with specific standards and labelling requirements, and completeness of documentary requirements.

Marketing your products and services

Market entry

The most effective way to enter the market is to work with local entities, distributors or agents, who normally contribute not only to the brand building and marketing, but most importantly to local stakeholder relations, product registration, importing and customer liaison.

Links and industry contacts

Industry Association

Philippine Hospital Association
Philippine Retirement Authority

Government, business and trade resources for the Philippines

Board of Investments 
Bureau of Customs 
Bureau of Product Standards 
Department of Health 
Department of Trade and Industry 
Export Marketing Bureau 
Food and Drug Administration 

Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.

Contact details

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission – Austrade – contributes to Australia's economic prosperity by helping Australian businesses, education institutions, tourism operators, governments and citizens as they:

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Working in partnership with Australian state and territory governments, Austrade provides information and advice that can help Australian companies reduce the time, cost and risk of exporting. We also administer the Export Market Development Grant Scheme and offer a range of services to Australian exporters in growth and emerging markets.