Manila, Philippines – HealthJustice Philippines supports in directing resources to health promotive interventions to encourage Filipinos, especially those in the vulnerable sectors, to adopt healthy lifestyles and avoid sickness.
The Universal Health Care (UHC) Bill, which guarantees all Filipinos with access to affordable and quality promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services is a priority bill of President Rodrigo Duterte. Congressional leaders have already committed to pass the said legislation this October.
UHC bill co-author Angara said in a press statement that “the bill is also envisioned to cause a paradigm shift from curative to preventive interventions across the public health system…” He continued: “an ounce of prevention would definitely provide substantial relief to Filipino families more than a pound of cure, given the skyrocketing costs of treatment and hospitalization.”
“We appreciate Sen. Angara’s attention to the effectiveness of Health Promotion for Universal Health Care. Indeed, heart disease, cancerous tumors, pneumonia, strokes, diabetes and hypertension are all preventable diseases which can be addressed by avoiding smoking, observing healthy diet and lifestyle activities which the government can promote,” Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan, board member of non-profit organization HealthJustice Philippines and former health secretary today declared.
The World Health Organization defined Health Promotion as the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. It promotes a health-enabling environment that encourages individuals to practice healthy lifestyles thus, improving their lives and preventing diseases, and injuries.
“For health promotion to succeed, the government needs to work with different health-oriented civil society organizations to create an evidence-based roadmap on how to address these chronic diseases.” Galvez-Tan added.
UHC Implementation can be funded by increased tobacco tax
Angara however noted that for reforms in the universal health care bill to be carried out, “the Department of Health (DOH) needs an extra P60 billion to P80 billion on top of the P200-billion 2019 budget they’re slated to receive just to implement the UHC bill on the first year alone.”
“The funding gap for UHC to succeed can be covered by further tobacco tax increases as proposed in the bills filed by Senators JV Ejercito and Manny Pacquaio,” said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Executive Director of Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA). He urged Angara to urgently hear these bills in the Ways and Means Committee chaired by Angara. “Revenues from the additional tobacco tax increase can ensure the effective implementation of the UHC. At the same time, the increase in tobacco tax will help discourage smoking and thereby reduce deaths and diseases caused by tobacco use, which will also contribute to sustainability of universal health care.”
Senate Health Committee Chair Sen JV Ejercito said that the “primary objective (of the bill) is to guarantee equal access to quality and affordable health services for each Filipino, along with ensuring that such will not be a financial burden.”
HealthJustice Philippines is a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a member of the NCD Alliance, an international network experts, advocates and organizations working to decrease the burden of non-communicable diseases worldwide.
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