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Accessible health care

Manila Standard

The 1987 Constitution mandates the government to protect the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.

Towards this end, health authorities should adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to health development that would make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost, with priority given for the needs of the underprivileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women, and children.

That’s the ideal situation contemplated by our fundamental law 27 years ago.

But a big step forward in realizing the right to health of all Filipinos is the plan of the Department of Health to build 28 primary care facilities nationwide.

This is designed to make health care more accessible, especially to 28 million poor Filipinos, the agency said.

The National Ambulatory and Urgent Care Facilities or health hubs would be spread out in strategic parts of the country to be able to reach communities lacking healthcare facilities.

The basic idea is to decongest regional hospitals where there are long lines of patients.

The health hubs will be built in provinces lacking hospitals, particularly within the compound of state colleges and universities with medical schools.

The planned health facilities will be patterned after the outpatient department of the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, which serves 3,000 to 5,000 patients a day.

These facilities would have complete services such as family medicine, OB surgery medicine, orthopedics, endoscopy, magnetic resonance imaging, CT scan, X-ray and laboratory, and even same-day surgery.

These would also have a pharmacy where free medicine could be provided to indigent patients.

The establishment of these facilities will also help the DOH achieve its eight “priority goals” for 2024, which are tied to primary care: immunization; nutrition; maternal health; tuberculosis; road safety; prevention of noncommunicable diseases with a focus on hypertension and diabetes; cancer; and the digitalization of the health sector.

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth will prepare the primary care benefits package for these facilities.

Under the Universal Health Care Act, all Filipinos are automatically enrolled in the National Health Insurance Program, which PhilHealth implements. Hence, the agency will pay the consultation fees, medicines and medical procedures of its members.

If all goes according to plan, this will definitely be good news for 28 million poor Filipinos whose right to health is guaranteed by our Constitution.

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