Strengthening PH healthcare system must be a long-term commitment – Bong Go
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has renewed his call for the further strengthening of the country’s healthcare system in order to attain full pandemic recovery.
He also stressed Monday that a strong national health care system will equip the country to be come better prepared for any health crisis in the future.
“One’s state of health may directly and immediately affect one’s earning capacity. Especially for many of our average Filipinos who could only take home a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work, getting sick has particularly dire implications,” said Go, chair of the Senate committee on health.
He then expressed his appreciation for President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s recent directive to refocus the Department of Health’s (DOH) attention toward other public health concerns.
“We must continue prioritizing general public health to promote the overall well-being of the Filipino people. Our plans should include intensifying our fight against tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus infections, among others commonly afflicting the Filipinos, which have serious consequences for the affected individuals and the population at large,” he said.
Go, nevertheless, said that the government should remain vigilant against COVID-19.
“Indeed, we have come a long way in our fight against the pandemic. We can now afford to have less strict minimum health protocols, largely because of our solid vaccination efforts that began under the previous Duterte Administration,” he noted.
Citing the DOH, Go mentioned that starting next year, COVID-19 management will be integrated into other public health programs and will not be a special program anymore.
But while many no longer consider controlling the transmission of the virus as more urgent than reducing inflation, Go said that as long as COVID-19 is still present and continues to mutate, it poses a serious threat to everyone.
“Continued public vigilance is thus needed, especially this holiday season,” he said.
In this light, Go asserted that it is the government’s responsibility to guarantee that everyone has access to affordable healthcare.
“A strong healthcare system can help prevent and control the spread of diseases and can also play a key role in promoting public health and reducing healthcare disparities,” he said.
“Moreover, an enhanced healthcare system can help support economic growth and development by enabling individuals to live healthier, more productive lives. Ultimately, strengthening our healthcare system is essential for our society’s overall health and well-being,” he added.
Finally, as Filipinos celebrate the holiday season, Go expressed hope that they will lead healthier and happier lives.
“To help achieve this, I filed several measures to ensure our preparedness against potential health threats and protect our people from these threats,” he said.
Go is a staunch advocate for the improvement of the country’s healthcare system. Considering how the pandemic became an eye-opener for the government to strengthen its healthcare system, the senator refiled Senate Bill No. 195 which seeks to establish the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Senate Bill No. 196 which seeks to establish the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines.
Go also filed Senate Bill No. 189, which seeks to provide free annual medical check-up for all Filipinos. Other health-related measures also make up the bulk of Go’s priority bills filed in the 19th Congress. These include Senate Bill No. 190 which mandates the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to fully cover all costs of dialysis treatments, sessions, and procedures done in health facilities accredited by PhilHealth; Senate Bill No. 191 or the Advanced Nursing Education Bill; SBN 421 establishing an Emergency Medical Services System; Senate Bill No. 427 which aims to provide benefits and compensation to Barangay Health Workers; and Senate Bill No. 428 which seeks to establish Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Centers nationwide.
The senator is also the principal author and sponsor of the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019. The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop which provides particularly poor and indigent patients convenient access to the medical assistance programs of the relevant government agencies. To date, there are 153 Malasakit Centers nationwide.
Go also vowed to continue pushing for the establishment of more Super Health Centers (SHCs) throughout the country in a bid to improve healthcare access among Filipinos, especially in rural areas. The establishment of 307 SHCs is already included in the 2022 budget while at least 300 more will be part of next year’s budget.
Advocated by Go, SHCs are medium versions of polyclinics and are bigger than rural health units, which offer basic services such as database management, out-patient, birthing, isolation, isolation, diagnostic (laboratory: x-ray, ultrasound), pharmacy, and ambulatory surgical unit.
Other available services are eye, ear, nose, and throat (EENT) service, oncology centers, physical therapy and rehabilitation center and telemedicine, where remote diagnosis and treatment of patients will be done.