By Sweetie de la Torre
President Benigno S. Aquino III said that health services is his top concern.
In his third State-of-the-Nation Address before the joint session of Congress on Monday, Aquino said that whatever the basis, the number of Filipinos with no government health services remained his concern, noting that 85 percent of Filipinos are now enrolled in PhilHealth, especially the 5.2 million poorest households identified by Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to avail of benefits and services .
” And here’s even better news: the 5.2 million poorest households identified by our National Household Targeting System will now fully benefit from PhilHealth’s program, free of charge. Because of the Department of Health’s No Balance Billing Policy, treatment for dengue, pneumonia, asthma, cataracts — as well as treatments for catastrophic diseases like breast cancer, prostate cancer, and acute leukemia — can be availed of for free by our poorest countryment,” Aquino said.
He said that poorest PhilHealth members could now enter government hospital and get treated without having to shell out a single centavo.
When he began his stint in office, Aquino said that about 62 percent of Filipinos were enrolled or there were 760,357 household-beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.
“Our target: 3.1 million to enroll within two years. By February of this year, the three millionth household beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilya had been registered. Next year, we will enroll 3.8 million – five times what we had at the beginning of our term,” Aquino said.
“Now, 85 percent of our citizens are members. This means that since we received our mandate, 23.31 million more Filipinos have access to PhilHealth’s array of benefits and services,” Aquino said.
Likewise, the President said that based on data from the DSWD, 1,672,977 mothers now get regular checkups; 1,672,814 children have been vaccinated against diarrhea, polio, measles, and various other diseases.
He also took note on issues of four out of 10 Filipinos have never seen a health professionals in their lifetime, and other figures that six out of 10 Filipinos die without being attended by health professionals.
Aquino also noted the on-going deployment of nurses and midwives under the RNHeals Programs, which now reached 30,801.
” And today, because of efficient targeting, they are deployed to where they are most needed — to areas that have been for so long left in the margins of society. We have sent our health professionals to 1,021 localities covered by the Pantawid Pamilya, and to the 609 poorest cities and municipalities identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission”, Aquino said.
He also said that over 11,000 Community Health Teams have been tasked to strengthen the links between doctors and nurses, and the communities they serve.
“This new systems addresses two issues: thousands of nurses and midwives now have jobs and an opportunity to gain valuable work experience, at the same time, millions of our countrymen now have increased access to quality health care”, the President said.
Meanwhile, the President noted the success of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in their initial project on dengue mosquito traps, noting their efficacy in areas with the highest reported incidence of dengue.
He said that in 2011, traps were distributed in Bukidnon, which had recorded 1,216 dengue cases in 2010 and after distribution , the number of cases decreased to 37 or about 97 percent reduction in rate.
On maternal mortality rate, the President has vowed to continue undertaking measures in addressing the health care needs of women, and wanted to provide medical institutions enough equipment, facilities, and manpower.
” We can easier fulfill all these goals, if the Sin Tax Bill – which rationalizes taxes on alcohol and tobacco products – can be passed. This bill makes vice more expensive while at the same time raising more money for health,” Aquino said.
The President also lauded “all the nurses, midwives, or doctors who chose to serve in the barrios”, saying that “whenever I come face to face with a mother who tells me, “Thank you, my child has been vaccinated,” I respond: You made this happen.”