Agenda of the next President: Healthcare
Starting Feb. 9, 2016, the Inquirer is coming out with a 10-part series on pressing national concerns that should be high on the agenda of the five contenders in the May 9 presidential election. The series should help Filipinos choose wisely the country’s next leader.
In line with our “ThINQ. Vote.” advocacy, we have asked the presidential candidates to outline their concrete plans of action in dealing with 10 decades-long issues—poverty, economy and jobs, food security, peace and order, corruption, healthcare, foreign policy, traffic, climate change and Internet connectivity.
According to former Health Secretary Enrique Ona, more than 30 percent of Filipinos with ailments die without seeing a doctor. Many hospitals in the provinces are poorly equipped and staffed and lacking in services, the result of the devolution of responsibility for health services from the central government to the local governments in the 1990s. The situation calls for reforms in the government’s health spending and programs.
INQUIRER.net is publishing verbatim the candidates’ action plans to improve healthcare in the Philippines. For the summary of the 10 pressing issues, go to our special Elections 2016 website.
At present, poor local government units (LGUs) are unable to sufficiently deliver health services to their respective constituents because they lack manpower and infrastructure/facilities due to limited finances. As a result, the poor, marginalized and disadvantaged members of our society are unable to access healthcare. Under a Binay government, the considerable inequities in the country’s healthcare system will be addressed.
First, every Filipino will be guaranteed easy access to quality healthcare. As shown by the Makati model, a healthy individual maximizes human potential and productivity. Thus, under a Binay presidency, we will strengthen and promote preventive healthcare through comprehensive immunization, vaccination, sanitation and nutrition. There will be easy access to hospitalization for the poorest of the poor and affordable healthcare for others based on their ability to pay. No Filipino should worry about where to source the money for their health and well-being.
Second, the capacity of the LGU to deliver health services must be strengthened, considering that they are the frontliners in nation-building. In this regard, special attention will be given to LGUs in rural areas where poverty incidence is at its highest or those far-flung areas with limited funding.
Third, it is essential that the national government, LGUs and private entities coordinate by having an automated data collection and dissemination system. The Binay administration will ensure that such a system will be implemented. The various health stakeholders will have accurate and complete data and information that will guide them in implementing a coordinated and truly responsive national health plan for the country.
Fourth, continued reforms will be made to further strengthen the health insurance scheme in our country. We will expand the program to cover not only to the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized but the whole population, as well as increase the number of diseases/sicknesses covered.
Finally, it is not enough that Filipinos have health coverage, whether through PhilHealth or other private health insurance providers. It is equally important that the infrastructure (hospitals and health centers), facilities (medical equipment and laboratories) and support services and providers (doctors, nurses, physical therapists as well as sources of medicine) are put into place to provide quality and complete health services. A Binay presidency will strive to make this happen.
- Review all local antismoking ordinances to ensure conformance with national antismoking laws.
- Preventive health programs must be sustainably pushed, particularly adequate nutrition.
- A national daily exercise program will be established.
- Equitable implementation of the reproductive health law.
- 100-percent Philhealth coverage for all Filipinos.
- All provinces must have a tertiary hospital with an intensive care unit.
- All regions should have an advanced tertiary health-care facility to include a heart, kidney and lung center capable of transplants and advanced cardiovascular interventions. This will decongest current specialty hospitals in Manila under the Department of Health and encourage specialty practice in the countryside.
- Harness the private sector in the provision of hospitals and clinics so as to augment government resources in the funding of universal healthcare.
- Prioritize preventive healthcare and maintenance, and establish a voucher system to grant free access to primary health-care and outpatient services at any clinic.
- Reduce prices of medicines by promoting competition in the manufacture and distribution stages of delivery.
- Ensure that Family Planning clinics are adequately funded and equipped to provide the necessary services to promote responsible parenthood.
Having a sick loved one is one of the biggest blows to any Filipino family. Whenever someone gets sick, there is a chance for poor families to lose everything they have. Both the physical and financial states of families are severely affected. That is why on top of pursuing 100-percent PhilHealth membership, we also need to ensure that our health facilities have enough capacity and capabilities to attend to the needs of our people. Filipino families must be afforded a safety net in times of dire need. As such, we will ensure that every barangay has access to a rural health unit to provide communities with immediate and quality health support. A healthy population means a healthy economy.
Changing health needs should be addressed to mitigate the economic impact of poor maternal and child health, prevalent infectious diseases, rising incidence of noncommunicable diseases and a changing health. As President, I will:
- Expand the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and establish progressive universal healthcare that includes:
- A publicly financed, well-disseminated health insurance package which covers essential health-care interventions for all; and
- A second benefit package, funded through a range of financing mechanisms, with only poor people exempted from all payments;
- Stop the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office from requiring beneficiaries to bring endorsements from public officials before providing medical assistance;
- Oppose the privatization of hospitals;
- Improve facilities and the availability of vaccines and medicines in barangay health centers; and
- Fully and wholeheartedly implement the reproductive health law.