DOH revives Botika ng Bayan to help LGUs, rural health units
The Botika ng Bayan (BNB) program, discontinued in 2011, made a comeback to provide rural areas with outpatient and pharmacy services, the Department of Health (DOH) said.
“The DOH is relaunching anew the BnB program in partnership with our local government units (LGUs) to realize President Duterte’s vision that no Filipino should go home without free access to basic medicines when needed and that quality essential medicines should be accessible and affordable for all Filipinos,” DOH Undersecretary Enrique Domingo said in a statement on Monday.
The revival of BNB coincided with the launching of the first pilot site in San Mariano, Isabela on Friday.
“We emphasize our important partnership with the LGUs, recognizing that the task of providing quality, affordable and accessible health care services to Filipinos should be coordinated using the whole of government approach,” Domingo explained.
Originally a project under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the BNB was stopped due to the lack of pharmacists and an effective chain supply to ensure the availability of high-quality generic medicines.
Aside from selling low-priced generic over-the-counter medicines, DOH said the new version of the BNB will provide important medicines for infections, skin problems, asthma, and chronic non-communicable diseases
Medicines like antibiotics, ointments, anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory, vitamins, antacids and drugs for hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia would also be available.
Patients would also be educated by licensed pharmacists and trained assistants hired by the DOH and the LGUs.
“While the DoH earlier issued a moratorium on the establishment of more BnBs, the program served its purpose of spurring generic competition and providing more affordable access to medicines for our citizens,” Domingo said.
“The BNB became a viable business model for generic pharmacies now spread out across the country bringing us toward the vision of more affordable medicines down to our villages,” he added.
Domingo also said patients from indigenous groups would not be charged for the medicines they need. Also, soldiers and policemen from the will also benefit from the program.
“More importantly, the medicines will be dispensed to patients for free to ensure no out-of-pocket expense for indigents as directed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” he said.
“The DOH recognizes the service and heroism of our armed personnel in ensuring the security of our country, hence the BNB program was revitalized with a new variant that shall provide free access to essential medicines for them, the Botika ng Bayani outlets,” Domingo added. /vvp
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