Towards an Ethical Analysis of Health Reform among Indigenous Communities in the Philippines


Principal investigator


A majority of the seven million indigenous peoples in the Philippines are suffering from severe poverty, and access to basic social services, including health, is still a major development challenge. Geographical isolation, cultural peculiarities, and weak local institutions are some of the identified barriers for the effective and efficient delivery of health services to them.


Focus of the research

The ethical analysis of policies, plans, and programs for population health is a traditional part of the Philippine public administration practice. This research aims to continue that tradition by providing a structural analysis of the relationships between the national government and local government units as the principal providers of health services to the indigenous population.


This thesis takes an immanent approach to understanding pathways for empowering people to share responsibility for achieving population health gains. Within this analysis, I focus on the life stories of barrio doctors, particularly how they see the dynamics of power between and among social actors present within the health system. Using key informant interviews, there were six barrio doctors interviewed purposely selected from both indigenous-majority and indigenous-minority provinces in the Philippines.  Document review of the policies, plans, and programs undertaken in the public health sector reform was also made.


Results and conclusion

The depth of understanding of the operational environment in health service is directly related to the degree of collective action among its stakeholders. Meaningful citizen engagement at the different levels of the health system facilitates health reforms among indigenous communities. At the strategic level, national agencies are now working in tandem through rationalising the use of resources, sharing of health information system, and streamlining of all health programs provided to the indigenous communities. Operationally, cooperative action between and among the local government units, non-government organisations, and indigenous communities is essential for the successful implementation of these public health programs.

Updated:  29 April 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director/Page Contact:  Coordinator