The Trustworthy Leader & Policy-Maker

Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan’s career in health leadership has proven both fruitful and invaluable to contemporary health systems management in the Philippines. He was one of the primary authors of the draft bill on creating the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation during his stint as Undersecretary of Health 1992-95 which already conceived of a Universal Health Care for all Filipinos by 2010.

He led the review of the researches done (1988-1992) on health financing especially the critique of the then Medicare institution. The review led to the concept of creating a new institution (PhilHealth) to ensure access, quality and equity of health care in the Philippines.

Through a well calculated strategy plan of 16 months of campaigning within the Cabinet and President former Fidel V. Ramos, followed by the introduction of the draft bill in the two Houses of Congress, a series of 1,000 consultations with all stakeholders all over the country and an operational research of a decentralize health insurance system in Bukidnon and Guimaras provinces, the PhilHealth Bill was passed in Congress in January 1995 and signed into law by former President Fidel V. Ramos on February 14, 1995.

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DOH’s ‘Golden Era’


The revolutionary health agenda was the brainchild of Dr Dr. Galvez Tan, then Undersecretary and Chief of Staff and then Sec Juan M Flavier to what journalist Cathy Cheng-Soña describes as “the golden years of the Department of Health”. At the time of the passing he PhilHealth bill and the signing into a law, Dr. Galvez Tan had already assumed the position of Acting Secretary of Health.

He also established the Local Government Assistance and Monitoring Service, Traditional Medicine Unit, Urban Health Development Unit, Disaster Management Unit and the integration of family planning into reproductive health, maternal and child health care, nutrition and dental health divisions of DOH; and revitalized the DOH’s Primary Health Care as the foundation for planning and management, Standards, Licensing, Regulations and Quality Assurance, and the partnership between the DOH (through the Essential National Health Research and Development.

In his years as Undersecretary and Chief of Staff from 1992-1995, he was responsible for the management of the many programs; among them:

As Secretary of Health, Dok Jimmy initiated the following:

Dok Jimmy also initiated the formation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the following:

A Healthier Philippines

His body of work on Health Human Resources Development continues to be quoted, especially his landmark papers on Doctors Becoming Nurses (2004) and the Ethical Guidelines in the Recruitment of International Health Workers, The Impact of Diaspora of Filipino Health Professionals on the over-all health care delivery system of the Philippines, research studies on medical education (from Idealism to Pragmatism).

Dok Jimmy is currently working on the Philippine component of a research with the University of Ottawa, entitled, “Source” Country Perspective on the Migration of Highly Trained Health Personnel: Key Informant Interviews in South Africa, Jamaica, India and the Philippines.

Presently, Dok Jimmy is one of the strategic thinkers in establishing the Coalition 162 to 52 to fast track the achievement of MDG5: lowering maternal mortality and promoting maternal health. Together with the Zuellig Foundation, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, Sanofi Pasteur, Dok Jimmy representing Health Futures Foundation, Inc., joined this core group to mobilize all stakeholders especially the Department of Health and PhilHealth, together with Local Governments (Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, League of Provinces, League of Municipalities, League of Cities) and more than 200 civil society organizations in establishing the Coalition 162 to 52. The Coalition is now in its preparation in launching the action projects in 32 priority provinces.

Dok Jimmy continues to speak of health as a human right. He continues his involvement as Board of Trustees of the Philippine Cancer Society, Child Hope, CFSI, the NORFIl Foundation, the Medical Action Group, Galing Pook Foundation, Movement for Good Goveranance, Visayas Primary Health Care and consultant to Zuellig Family Foundation which gives the opportunity for him to share his views on accountability, transparency and equity in goverance of health and protection of health as a human right. This belief is firmly rooted in his long experience as a rural doctor.

Empowerment through Evidence

As a policy maker, Dok Jimmy understands the value of empirical evidence and the soundness of science in directing actions. Speaking in the recent Community Forum 2012, Partnership in Saving Laguna de Bay: Community-based Health, Food and Ecological Risk Communication and Early Warning System, he stands by the dictum “to pursue research for knowledge’s sake but to advance the well-being of the people.”

Dok Jimmy currently heads the Chairs of the Technical Work Groups of thehead Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) composed of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), DOST, DOH, CHED and the National Institutes of Health in UP Manila. He is Chair of the Resource Mobilization Technical Working Group of the PNHRS in charge of generating a sustainable fund of initially P1 Billion for health research and development in the Philippines. He has gotten the endorsement of Secretary Butch Abad of the Department of Budget and Management and the support of Congressman Jun Abaya of the Lower House Committee on Ways and Means and Congressman Alfredo Maranon III of the Lower House Committee on Health and Senator Pia Cayetano of the Senate Committee on Health for a sustainable health research fund for the PNHRS.

As principal investigator, Dr. Galvez Tan also led a multi sectoral group of health social scientists on the study of Community Leadership in Reproductive Health and Development among the poorest in 10 ethno-liguistic groups and areas of the Philippines. The research was presented at the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute in the Bloomberg School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, USA in 2007. A book has been published on the results of the research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The book has been made available to all local governments of the Philippines.