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The Philippines passed landmark legislation in 2019 on universal health coverage, including reforms in the development of its health workforce, an essential building block of responsive health care systems.

Health Workforce Planning Cocreation Process

We based our planning process on a model of cocreation defined as sharing power and decision making to solve problems collaboratively and build consensus around action. Through cocreation with policy makers, researchers, and other stakeholders, we performed projection studies on 10 selected health professions and estimated the need for primary care at national and subnational levels, which was the most extensive health workforce projection carried out by the Philippine Department of Health to date. We determined health workforce requirements based on target densities recommended by the World Health Organization and a health needs approach that considered epidemiological and sociodemographic factors. In consultation with stakeholders, we interpreted our analysis to guide recommendations to address issues related to health workforce quantity, skill mix, and distribution. These included a broad range of proposals, including task shifting, expanding scholarships and deployment, reforming health professionals’ education, and pursuing a whole-of-society approach, which together informed the National Human Resources for Health Master Plan.


Our cocreation model offers lessons for policy makers, program managers, and researchers in low- and middle-income countries who deal with health workforce challenges. Cocreation led to relationship building between policy makers and researchers who jointly performed the research and identified solutions through open communication and agile coordination. To shape future health care systems that are responsive both during normal times and during crises, cocreation would be essential for evidence-informed policy development and policy-relevant research.