Phillipine HTA Code of COnduct
A. Role of HTA based on the Universal Health Care Act
The recently enacted Republic Act 11223 also known as “Universal Health Care Act,” has mandated Health Technology Assessment (HTA) as “a fair and transparent priority setting mechanism for the development of policies and programs, regulation, and the determination of a range of entitlements” in recognition of the role of evidence-informed policy and decision-making in the pursuit of universal health care (UHC).
The Act mandates that “Every Filipino shall be granted immediate eligibility and access to preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative care for medical, dental, mental and emergency health services, delivered either as population-based or individual-based health services: Provided, that the goods and services to be included shall be determined through a fair and transparent health technology assessment process.” Among others, this mechanism leads to increased quality of care and saves the government from unnecessary expenditures since only cost-effective technologies will be funded.
B. The organization of HTA Council and HTA Unit into an HTA Office (HTAO)
The HTA Council, with its Core Committee and Subcommittees, acts as the recommending body for the Department of Health (DOH) and Philippine Health
Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). The HTA Council is supported by the HTA Unit in its governance, management, and operations for the nation’s goal of achieving safe, effective, efficient, fair, affordable, and responsive health care for all Filipinos. The HTA Secretariat acts as the coordinator between the HTA Council, the HTA Unit and external stakeholders in ensuring the integrity of the HTA Governance framework and the efficient administration of the HTA processes compliant with statutory and regulatory requirements as mandated by law. The members of the HTA Council and the HTA Unit shall participate in international conferences on HTA and related themes in order to continually receive updates, best experiences and strategies, as well as share Philippine experiences.
C. Rationale for Code of Conduct for the HTAO members
Members of HTAO come from different agencies, perspectives, and varying fields of expertise. Therefore, it is important that members agree on certain standards of behavior. The HTAO must always adhere to Section 5 and 7 of Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.” HTAO members are responsible to a lot of stakeholders, including the general public, which requires a high level of credibility.
II. General Principles
A. Equality and Fairness
Members, in representing diverse backgrounds, skills, and experiences, shall have an equal voice in the HTA process. In the conduct of their duties and obligations, they shall equally share in the burdens of tasks, responsibilities, and accountabilities.
B. Public interest
The primary concern of HTAC is public interest in all its decision-making. All criteria in prioritization and in development of recommendations rest on how these will impact on the general welfare of families and communities.
HTAO members shall have a clear idea of their roles and responsibilities, and shall ensure that all stakeholders are well-informed and acquainted on the HTA processes. In all meetings and deliberations, each member shall participate truthfully and with candidness.
D. Professional competence
Members shall maintain a level of professional competence and knowledge required to discharge their obligations and duties.
E. Management of Conflict of Interest
Members have COI when they have direct or indirect interests (e.g., private financial interests, personal relationships, or affiliations) that could compromise their decision-making on official issues. A member shall make timely disclosure of any direct or indirect COI. HTAO members must be impartial and objective in the conduct of HTA deliberations.
III. Conduct during HTAC Meetings
HTAC members are expected to attend at least 60% of the meetings and they must diligently prepare for the meeting. Proxies are not allowed during meetings. There shall only be one official record or recording of the approved minutes. It should be kept safe and secured by one designated HTAO member, in general, by the HTA Unit Technical Secretariat. Recording by any other member is not allowed.
Members must treat each other with respect. They may not always agree with one another on some issues, but in the process of defending respective ideas, there shall be an atmosphere of courtesy, open-mindedness, and humility.
Members shall observe confidentiality of all information received during assessment procedures, except the documents that have already been publicly disseminated (e.g., evidence summaries, HTA reports). In any external activities, the members shall not disclose any confidential information. Members must keep all HTAC-related documents (soft or hard copy) secure and safe from viewing of any third party. Any loss of HTAC-related documents or suspected hacking must be immediately reported.
The HTAC shall arrive at decisions by consensus. The HTAC will speak as one voice once a decision has been made. Members will support all properly authorized actions.