Tacloban City—A health advocacy party-list group has pointed out the “glaring gaps and problems” in the country’s healthcare system, prompting them to push for a “comprehensive solution” through legislation.
“The Philippines is now suffering from a health crisis. The cost of medicines and access to medical services are becoming more and more prohibitive, yet this problem has been largely left out of the political discourse,” said Mike Defensor, the nominee of Anakalusugan (Alagaan Natin Ating Kalusugan) party-list, here on Wednesday.
Defensor, a veteran legislator, said the medical inflation rate in the Philippines is expected to be the highest in Asia based on the prevailing ratio of one public doctor for every 33,000 persons instead of the “ideal” ratio of 1 to 1,000.
“One in three Filipino children aged five years old and below suffer from malnutrition and stunting, and at least 60 percent of Filipinos who died in 2016 were not medically attended,” added Ower Andal, another party nominee.
Andal said they are “committed” to ease the health issues of the Filipinos with the launching of their mobile clinic dubbed as “Klinika Ng Bayan” in Sto. Tomas, Batangas.
According to Andal, their clinic gives free basic medicines and diagnostic tests not only to residents of Sto. Tomas but also to its neighboring towns.
The party-list group said they hoped to replicate the mobile clinic in 200 pilot towns across the country, which includes some areas in Eastern Visayas.
“Early detection is cheaper. Our advocacy is more on prevention,” Andal said.
“You need a blood test or diagnostic exam to get a proper prescription and accurately identify your illness, but in rural areas, the nearest hospital or clinic may be several towns away,” he said.
Meanwhile, Defensor said that to solve the “health crisis” in the country, they will push for the removal of the 12 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on vitamins and all maintenance medicines and procedures.
Among their legislative agenda, Defensor said they will strengthen the mandate of the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care to promote alternative medicines, and allocate a fixed portion of the Internal Revenue Allotment of not lower than 5 percent for health and nutrition services.
“We will ensure that all persons with disabilities are registered so they can fully enjoy their benefits such as their 20 percent discount and VAT exemption,” he added.
“We will pass a law that would ensure that health insurance premiums remain VAT-free. Also, we will set a fixed allowance for Barangay Health Workers and Barangay Nutrition Scholars who serve as force multipliers of the Department of Health (DOH), especially in areas where there are no public doctors,” the group said in a statement.
Defensor also called on the DOH to enhance its health education, noting the spike in teenage pregnancy and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) cases in the country.
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