MANILA, PHILIPPINES—St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC), a trailblazer in delivering quality healthcare in the Philippines, marked a pivotal moment on Thursday, November 16, by launching the SLMC Health Equity and Research (HERE) Foundation. The ceremonial launch took place at Shangri La The Fort, Bonifacio Global City, and was attended by business leaders and top researchers from both public and private sectors.
Dr. Arturo De La Peña, President and CEO of St. Luke’s HERE Foundation, said, "While St. Luke’s Medical Center delivers the highest standard of healthcare to individuals, it is imperative that we acknowledge and address the reality of healthcare inequality. Recognizing this disparity is the first step towards fostering a more inclusive and equitable healthcare system, ensuring that quality medical care reaches all segments of our community, irrespective of socio-economic backgrounds."
Dr. Antonio Dans, SLMC HERE Foundation Vice President, concurred, highlighting the failure of many policies to bridge the healthcare gap between the affluent and the impoverished. "For example, PhilHealth benefits are supposed to improve access to healthcare for those with less. However, the National Demographic and Health Survey shows that the poorest Filipinos use PhilHealth three times less frequently than the richest," Dr. Dans added.
Beyond research, the HERE Foundation will also champion capacity building in health equity research and advocate for relevant policies in collaboration with other institutions. Dr. Dennis Serrano, President and CEO of St. Luke's Medical Center, underscored the commitment to equal care, stating, "All this must begin with ourselves. At St. Luke’s, there is no distinction in the level of care provided to social service cases and self-paying patients. They receive equal attention and are not segregated into separate rooms."
The SLMC HERE Foundation is a non-stock, not-for-profit research foundation with a mission to finance research to enhance healthcare accessibility, particularly for the underprivileged. Research grants under the HERE Foundation will be administered by an independent Governing Council, featuring inaugural members selected for their profound expertise in various health research fields relevant to health equity. Notable members include pediatric infectious disease and pharmacologic researcher Dr. Benjamin G. Co, biostatistician and clinical epidemiologist Dr. Cynthia P. Cordero, clinical epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist Dr. Mary Ann D. Lansang, medical anthropologist and former University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Chancellor Dr. Michael L. Tan, health economist and senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies Dr. Valerie G. Ulep, and health technology assessment pioneer and former DOH Undersecretary for research development Dr. Madeleine D.R. Valera.