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President Benigno Simeon Aquino III

Malacañang: Ph gov’t committed to ensuring quality health care for Filipinos

President  Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III

MANILA, Philippines – The government remains committed to ensuring sustainable and quality health care for all Filipinos by enhancing the health programs of the Department of Health (DOH), the Palace said on Tuesday.
In a statement, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. responded to claims made by Vice President Jejomar Binay’s in his “True State of the Nation Address” on Monday that the administration neglected a number of health care issues, among them the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) coverage, maternal and infant health, and health center services.
In response, Secretary Coloma said that based on DOH records, the package and benefits provided by PhilHealth have been increased and expanded to cater to the growing needs of the country’s citizens.
These services include the Point of Care (POC) Enrolment Program, No Balance Billing Policy, All Case Rates, Primary Care Benefit, PhilHealth Outpatient Anti-Tuberculosis Directly Observed Treatment Short Course, and Animal Bite Package.
PhilHealth also provides Maternity Care Package, Z-benefit and expanded Z-benefit for catastrophic diseases and a benefit package for Peritoneal Dialysis or PD First to cover renal diseases.
It also extends the Z-morph benefit package for the initial fitting of the lower limb prosthesis, and the Z benefit for selected orthopedic implants covering patients with disabilities aged 66 years old and above.
The DOH also increased the number of health professionals deployed in the field, especially in Geographically Isolated and Displaced Areas, he said, disputing the Vice President’s statement that health professionals have not been sent to remote areas.
Coloma said that since 2010, nearly 90,000 health professionals have been deployed to various towns and barrios across the country.
This year, he said, a total of 214 dentists and 787 public health associates are being deployed to augment the existing workforce. Next year, the government will deploy an additional 21,118 health workers.
On the issue of maternal deaths, the department reported that in 2013, the total cases of maternal deaths were lower than the recorded estimates of the World Bank and the World Health Organization at 120 per 100,000 or 3,240 maternal deaths, contrary to the 5,000 deaths cited by the Vice President.
In addition, child mortality in the country has significantly decreased and the country is expected to meet its Millennium Development Goal 4 of reducing infant mortality, according to Coloma.
Based on the National Demographic Health Survey, the number of infant deaths has decreased from 34 per 1,000 live births in 2008 to 30 per 1,000 live births in 2013.
At the same time, the government is constantly improving the capacity of public health facilities nationwide through the Health Facilities Enhancement Program to serve more people, Coloma said.
Apart from barangay health stations, Rural Health Units and other primary care health centers have been established to meet the health needs of the barangays.
Coloma said that a total of 19,489 barangay health stations (BHS) and 3,074 rural stations are serving the needs of the public.
Next year, an additional 6,400 BHS would be established in schools to serve the health needs of both school and community, he added.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.