US to Sponsor Major Healthcare Programme in Philippines

by VR Sreeraman on Nov 9 2007 6:16 PM

The United States is to sponsor a major healthcare programme in 500 Philippine companies, the two governments said Thursday.

Backed by a three million-dollar loan from the US Agency for International Development, the initiative is expected to cover more than 470,000 people.

The programme -- of which a major part is family planning through education and contraceptives -- is to be implemented over a five-year period and comes as the US is about to end a 30-year project supplying free contraceptives to the Filipino poor.

"This is a completely new programme to bring in access to healthcare to private workplaces," US ambassador to the Philippines, Kristie Kenney, told reporters.

The project was signed in Manila by Kenney, Philippine Labour Secretary Arturo Brion and Assistant Philippine Health Secretary Mario Villaverde.

The Philippines has one of the highest birth rates in Asia and the influential Roman Catholic church, the dominant religion in the Philippines, is fiercely opposed to birth control.