Daily Tribune (Philippines)

Strengthen­ing health care, helping Filipinos recover from pandemic


As our country turns a new leaf with the coming of the elections in just a couple of months, President Rodrigo Duterte and I remain steadfast in prioritizi­ng the health and welfare of the Filipinos, especially access to medical services for the poor, the needy and the most vulnerable sectors.

These days, the number of new Covid-19 cases continues to go down — a result of our collective hard work and cooperatio­n in ensuring that, aside from following health guidelines, more Filipinos are getting vaccinated.

Our relentless vaccinatio­n campaign has resulted in fewer admissions to hospitals and has protected Filipinos from the worst effects of the virus. Yet, aside from Covid-19, our countrymen continue to suffer from other diseases and medical conditions. We should, therefore, continue our efforts to strengthen our health care system.

To this end, the government recently opened our 150th and 151st Malasakit Center at the Batanes General Hospital in Basco and the Quirino Provincial Medical Center in Cabarrogui­s, respective­ly. These Malasakit Centers aim to give poor and indigent Filipinos convenient access to medical assistance from offices, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Developmen­t, Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporatio­n, and Philippine Charity Sweepstake­s Office. Since the first Malasakit Center opened, we have already helped more than three million Filipinos and it will continue doing so even beyond the term of President Duterte through the Malasakit Centers Act which I principall­y authored and sponsored in the Senate.

As chairperso­n of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, I continue to look for solutions to problems in the delivery of effective health care to our people.

One of the pressing issues that needs to be

“I encourage all Filipinos to make sure that, in selecting our next leaders, we would consider someone who will continue the many positive programs, initiative­s and reforms.

addressed is the lack of accessible medical services in the countrysid­e. Many provinces in the country only have few establishe­d hospitals while some have inadequate personnel and equipment.

It is for this reason that I proposed the establishm­ent of Super Health Centers. The aim of these centers is to give Filipinos better access to the health care services provided by the government, most especially in faraway places where it is needed the most. Through this, Filipinos will not have the need to go to big hospitals in towns or city centers. Through this, we are nearer to our goal of a healthier, more resilient nation.

It is important for me and for the Filipino nation to make the Super Health Centers into a reality, with or without the pandemic, because there is always a constant need of medical services. Under the 2022 Health Facilities Enhancemen­t Program, we currently have a P3.587 billion budget for the constructi­on of 305 Super Health Centers. Around P2.031 billion of this will be dedicated in building health infrastruc­ture while the remaining P1.556 billion will be used to purchase needed equipment.

Each Super Health Center is envisioned to be a medium-sized version of polyclinic­s and an improved version of the rural health unit. The centers will have lab facilities, minor operating and emergency rooms, pharmacy, birthing facilities, out-patient department, dental services, comprehens­ive PhilHealth out-patient department, and other minor services.

Aside from this, I also continue to provide immediate assistance to Filipinos distressed by many circumstan­ces in life, such as accidents, calamities and even the pandemic. Last week, we provided assistance to 200 beneficiar­ies in Parañaque City; and 283 more in the Veterans Golf Course Quezon City. More Filipinos were also assisted in Manila, such as 166 beneficiar­ies in Ermita, 166 in Paco, 166 in Blumentrit­t, and another 166 in Pandacan. Another 3,000 beneficiar­ies from San Isidro, Davao Oriental were also given the same assistance in three separate occasions.

Meanwhile, 374 farmers and market vendors in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur; 450 beneficiar­ies from Caloocan City; 18 fire victims from Talisay

City in Cebu; 935 beneficiar­ies from

Guagua in Pampanga;

4,000 in Masinloc, Zamboanga, 1,000 in Valenzuela City; and another 1,000 in Quezon City were also given aid due to the effects of the pandemic.

Finally, 512 frontliner­s and 70 patients from Quirino Provincial Medical Center also received assistance from my office. It is my hope that through these assistance activities, we give them hope and happiness despite the challenges they experience.

The initiative­s and programs under the Duterte administra­tion have not only provided better solutions to our perennial problems but also secured a more comfortabl­e life for Filipinos. From health care initiative­s, such as the Malasakit Center and the Universal Health Care Law, to infrastruc­ture projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program, to the campaign against illegal drugs, criminalit­y and corruption, we lived at a time when the promise of real, meaningful and lasting change could be realized.

Despite the setbacks we have encountere­d due to the unexpected pandemic, we stayed strong and continue to move forward because of the decisive, compassion­ate and effective leadership of President Duterte. As his term ends, I encourage all Filipinos to make sure that, in selecting our next leaders, we would consider someone who will continue the many positive programs, initiative­s and reforms that will now form part of the Duterte legacy. With this, we can achieve a safer and more comfortabl­e life for all Filipinos and the next generation­s to come!

“Through this, Filipinos will not have the need to go to big hospitals in towns or city centers.

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