Three senatorial candidates from Team P-Noy have set down their agendas on health during the first part of the Universal Health Care Forum held at the Trader’s Hotel Manila on Monday.
With a common outline to strengthen awareness on health, candidates Akbayan partylist leader Risa Hontiveros, Former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. and Sen. Francis Escudero, each enumerated some key points in their agendas.
First among the speakers, Hontiveros spelled out in her speech how health care has been regarded as a “yardstick of inequality”.
“Those who have barely anything in their lives are those who also suffer the most when it comes to the issue on health,” she said in Filipino.
Hontiveros said that the government’s task is to make universal health care (UHC) “truly universal” by scaling up public spending on healthcare as well as more investment not just in terms of public spending but also in terms of political will to deliver UHC.
“We need to improve private health care services,” she said. “There has to be tighter regulation of private facilities so out of pocket expenses are reduced and profiteering is prevented.”
Hontiveros also explained that public health should not be at the mercy of market forces.
The government also needed to be more aggressive in (health) prevention by strengthening community health services and establishing programs, according to her.
“We save more resources and we save more lives if we focus more on prevention than on treatment,” she stressed.
Hontiveros cited the need to take care of the country’s health workforce.
“We need to have an ethical perspective on this issue, they (doctors and nurses who go abroad for work) are not export goods — they are professionals that should be treated as professionals,” she added.
Health before education
Meanwhile, Magsaysay, as second speaker, stressed how some medical professionals still had national empathy, despite most of them preferring to work in big cities instead of small towns.
He said that one way to keep our health professionals from continuously leaving the country is to see to it that they are given a healthy environment to work in.
“What we should do is to see to it that they are given the environment so that if they want to stay two weeks in say, Bicol, they should be allowed to have all the resources, good operating rooms, good assistance, good medicine — it’s basically a management or organizational problem,” Magsaysay said.
Magsaysay also said that it was necessary to give doctors and nurses good social support as well as a truly meaningful health fund.