Senator Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go said on Friday that aside from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Philippines should also guard against the continuing threat of tuberculosis.
Citing data, Go said that an an estimated one million Filipinos were infected with tuberculosis, the third highest documented prevalence rate after South Africa and Lesotho.
To address this, Go said he filed a bill to strengthen the fight against the dreaded disease.
Go said that while TB is a a major public health issue in the Philippines and many Filipinos continue to die from the disease, TB infection is preventable and the disease itself is curable.
The senator, who chairs the Senate health committee, filed Senate Bill No. 1748 which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 10767, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Tuberculosis Elimination Plan Act.
The proposed measure will provide for the creation of a TB registry and monitoring system which will address the issue of the underreporting of TB cases, a gap identified in the 2016 National TB
Prevalence Survey. The registry will record the personal information of all TB patients, the TB type and the treatment received, among others.
The bill also seeks to expand PhilHealth’s benefit package for patients, adults and children alike, to include the coverage of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis and extensively drug resistant tuberculosis.
In 2019, the Department of Health and World Health Organization issued a joint call for the elimination of the infectious disease by 2030.
In response, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the government is making this a priority under the Duterte Administration to finally put an end to TB.
Go also introduced a bill to improve access to kidney disease treatments and expand Philhealth’s coverage of treatment services for kidney failure.
Go’s Senate Bill No. 1749, aims to ensure that comprehensive renal replacement therapy services are available to all Filipinos suffering end-stage kidney disease. It expands PhilHealth’s benefits package for kidney transplantation and provides for the provision of free dialysis services to indigent patients.
The measure also mandates all national, regional and provincial public hospitals to establish their own dialysis service facility.
The National Kidney and Transplant Institute estimates that one Filipino develops chronic renal failure every hour. As of 2019, there are approximately 78,000 Filipinos who are registered as suffering from end-stage renal failure and require dialysis.
Go said that he remains committed to pushing for key health bills in the Senate to ensure better healthcare services for our people. He said proper healthcare is a right of every Filipino.