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Legarda on World Health Day: Let’s Ensure Universal Health Coverage For All Filipinos

April 6, 2018

In celebration of World Health Day (April 7), Senator Loren Legarda joined the call to ensure universal health coverage (UHC) for everyone everywhere.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said that the 2018 national budget provides funding to ensure that all Filipinos can be covered by health services in government hospitals. However, ensuring that every Filipino anywhere in the country can access this free health coverage is another challenge.

The total 2018 budget of the Department of Health (DOH), including budgetary support for government corporations, is Php171.09 Billion. This also includes the additional Php3.5 Billion allocation under PhilHealth for the health insurance of government employees under the Executive Department.

“In the 2017 national budget, we augmented the PhilHealth budget to ensure universal health coverage. We have ensured the same under the 2018 budget because it is the duty of government to extend basic healthcare protection to all its citizens. This means that even those not yet enrolled in PhilHealth and not formally employed, especially those financially incapable to pay for PhilHealth membership, can avail of free health services in government hospitals in the country,” said Legarda, principal author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 10606, the National Health Insurance Act of 2013.

“While we have the funds, we must also ensure that government health services reach even the farthest communities in the country. Under the special provision in the DOH budget, the Department should prioritize the deployment of doctors, midwives, nurses and other heath-related workers to barangays with no health workers, geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas, indigenous peoples communities, and where the absolute number of poor and the incidence of poverty are high,” she added.

Legarda said that to ensure better services for the people, the DOH budget, including the budget of specialty hospitals such as the Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and Philippine Children’s Medical Center, was also increased to provide additional funding for medical assistance program for indigent patients, additional medicine for cancer patients and Health Facilities Enhancement Program, among others.

The amount of Php51.591 Billion was allocated for the procurement of drugs, medicines and vaccines, including medical and dental supplies for distribution to government healthcare facilities.

Additional Php100 Million was also allocated for the National Nutrition Council’s (NNC) Early Childhood Care and Development Intervention Package for the First 1,000 Days.

“We have provided additional funding for the NNC’s early childhood care and development because the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life, which covers the nine months of a mother’s pregnancy until a child’s second birthday, is the foundation of a person’s future health, intellectual development, and motor and social skills. Good nutrition for mothers and babies at pregnancy and infancy stage is therefore crucial to sustain a sturdy foundation for a child’s well being,” said Legarda.

“The health of our people deserves to be on top of the priorities of government. To achieve universal health coverage, we need not only funding but also greater effort to bring health services and health workers to the far-flung communities and to make these healthcare benefits known by the people, especially the poorest households who are the intended beneficiaries,” Legarda concluded.