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A Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Legalization of an Informal Health Sector

Author(s): Roger Lee Mendoza

Journal: Journal of Social Sciences
ISSN 1549-3652

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 74;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Allopathic medicine | biomedicine | asymmetric information | Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) | cost-benefit analysis | health care | informal economy | scientific validity | transaction costs

Problem statement: The Philippines--a developing Southeast Asian country--exemplifies the co-existence of Western-oriented, medical science and indigenous, non-allopathic practices collectively known as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). The purpose of this study is to determine why and how the economics and politics of CAM’s integration with biomedical science could impede the achievement of health care redistribution in developing countries like the Philippines. Approach: Representative case studies of CAM methods and content analysis of related legislation and policy initiatives were undertaken. Results: The study shed light on the problems, challenges and opportunities in addressing the misdistribution of primary and secondary health care in the Philippines. It found that subjective considerations underlie CAM’s legitimacy. These become critical when scientific validity is at issue, information exchanged is asymmetric and political consensus is not readily available. How these considerations were valued from a cost-benefit perspective shaped actual policy outcomes. Conclusion: The study suggested that proper timing, phasing and collaborative strategies are critical to CAM's institutionalization in light of confining economic conditions and political conflicts over health policy. Both objective and subjective costs and benefits of CAM methods and products should be considered in integrating the formal (biomedical) and informal (CAM) health sectors, particularly in developing countries where health care is largely dependent on individual or household resource-based access and competitive prowess.
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