Two weeks ago, I attended the Council meeting of the Medicines Transparency Alliance (MeTA) Philippines, September 19 afternoon, at the Unilab's Bayanihan Center Annex. It was a good meeting, lots of topics discussed from many participants, including new members of the expanded Council. The meeting was presided by MeTA Philippines Chairman Roberto "Obet" Pagdanganan.
I like the expansion in membership of the Council to cover more private and health professional associations. I think some if not all of those professional organizations are also happy to belong to this big alliance with one important goal -- to have more transparency and accountability among various players, public and private, in the medicines manufacturing, distribution, retailing, dispensing and policy making.
There were several items on the agenda, among which are the objectives for Year 1 of MeTA 2, that officially started yesterday, October 01, 2012, up to September 30, 2013. See the five goals below. The quarterly activities including their respective budget starting this 4th quarter of 2012 were clearly discussed by MeTA Phils. Secretary General, Cecile Sison.
Aside from conducting studies on certain health and medicines policies of the Philippine government (DOH, PhilHealth, FDA, etc.), there will be a national forum once a year, a quarterly discussion series, as well as regular quarterly meetings.
MeTA, implemented in the Philippines and six other developing countries, is actually a unique if not strange NGO. It is a non-government organization but funded by government, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), program and project monitoring is done by the World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with an international NGO, the Health Action International (HAI).
Its membership is multisectoral -- from the multilaterals, the national government, health and research NGOs, industry associations, and health professional organizations. From what I observed since I joined the MeTA network through CHAT since 2009, I think the multistakeholder or multi-sectoral approach in dialogue and consensus building is working.
With the huge public debt by the UK and many other European governments and the fiscal bleeding and economic uncertainties that come with it, it is safe to assume that while this project is good, it is highly possible that the UK government will stop funding it in the future. So alternative funding sources have been identified and will be in place next year.
Among these are the incorporation with SEC as a non-stock non-profit organization that has corporate and legal identity to accept grants and donations from various sources, public and private. Another is the collection of annual dues from members: P20,000 for corporate members like industry association and professional organization, P10,000 for associate members like a pharma company or drugstore chain, P5,000 for civil society coalitions like CHAT, P5,000 for individual members, and P2,000 for associate members from civil society. Minimal Government Thinkers will fall under the last category and will pay P2,000 next year.
These rates are actually low considering the various research activities, regular discussion fora, regular meetings and community work each year. Well, there are donations to come, both in cash and in kind, from various sources.
The current officers of the MeTA Philippines Council are:
ROBERTO M. PAGDANGANAN Chairman
JOSE MARIA A. OCHAVE Vice Chairman
CECILIA C. SISON Secretary-General
NORMITA D. LEYESA Treasurer
ALBERTO G. ROMUALDEZ, JR Senior Adviser
REINER W. GLOOR Trustee
KENNETH Y. HARTIGAN-GO Trustee
PAULA MAE B. TANQUIENG Trustee
The corporate members at the moment are:
1. Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP)
2. Philippine Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (PCPI)
3. Drugstores Association of the Philippines (DSAP)
4. Philippine Medical Association (PMA)
5. Philippine College of Physicians (PCP)
6. Philippine Society of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology (PSECP)
7. Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPhA)
8. Association of Philippine Medical Colleges Foundation, Inc. (APMCFI)
9. Philippine Hospital Association (PHA)
10. Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPI)
11. Coalition for Health Advocacy and Transparency (CHAT)
No government agency, national or multilateral, is a corporate member
All of the above have the power to vote and be voted while associate and individual members do not have such rights and power. The latter can attend and participate in the various meetings though. Fair arrangement.
I am excited to see this development and dynamism. Someday MeTA Philippines can evolve into a largely privately-funded and sustained organization. Which is the essence of civil society -- a state of society where the citizens are mature, free and responsible enough to manage their personal, household and community lives via more volunteerism and the least government coercion involved.
Health Transparency 7: DOH Advisory Council, CHAT, June 04, 2012
Health Transparency 8: Advisory Council on RA 9502, June 11, 2012
Health Transparency 9: Physician Misdiagnosis, Dispensing Medicines, July 20, 2012
Health Transparency 10: Depoliticizing Health, Corporatizing Government Hospitals, September 18, 2012
Health Transparency 11: MeTA Philippines and Multistakeholder Process, September 19, 2012