Health groups remind legislators to put “health promotion at the heart of the universal health care law”.
The universal health care bill is now in the Senate, where it was sponsored by Senator J.V. Ejercito.
The public eagerly awaits the passage of the said bill, which provides for the automatic inclusion of all Filipinos under the national health insurance coverage.
Amid the rush to pass the bill, HealthJustice Philippines and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) strongly advised legislators to make health promotion a crucial component of the proposed law.
“We strongly urge legislators to put health promotion at the heart of the Universal Health Care law. Health promotion will make the local and national health systems geared towards the prevention of illnesses, and not just the treatment thereof. Increasing tobacco and alcohol taxes to discourage consumption of tobacco and alcohol products and making cities walkable and fitness-friendly to promote physical exercise are good examples of health promotion policies and programs,” said Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan, Board Member of HealthJustice. Galvez-Tan was also the Secretary of the Department of Health (DoH) in 1995.
Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Program Director of SEATCA, pointed out that “the passage of this law is a golden opportunity to institute reforms in the health sector and, overall, to make it conform to the age old but nevertheless accurate mantra that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
During his last State of the Nation Address, President Duterte prodded legislators to ensure the swift passage of the universal health care bill.
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes UHC as that which “means that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship; it includes the full spectrum of essential, quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care” and “enables everyone to access the services that address the most important causes of disease and death”.
HealthJustice Philippines is Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a member of the NCD Alliance, an international network of experts, advocates and organizations working to decrease the burden of non-communicable diseases worldwide.
SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.
Download press release here.