9 May, MANILA — With only a few days left before the May 13 elections, advocates appealed to voters to ensure headways in the health sector by voting for candidates who are genuinely pro-health.
“Kailangang maging wais sa pagboto (We should be smart voters). We need to protect our health and our country. Choose candidates who have concrete health platforms,” Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan, former health secretary, said.
Very recently, various laws have been passed which are expected to reinvigorate the country’s health sector. These include the Universal Health Care Act, Integrated Cancer Control Act, Mental Health Act, etc. These laws are still subject for implementation.
“The passage of the laws that we have all worked hard for is simply the beginning. We need to ensure that these are properly implemented, with the necessary resources, such as funding and more public health personnel. To do so, the halls of Congress and our local governments must have health champions who will push for these,” Galvez-Tan emphasized.
“Electing health champions is within our power. We should all make our votes count,” Dexter Galban of the Healthy Philippines Alliance said.
Galban noted that the best way to gauge a candidate is to look at his or her track record. “How consistently did your candidate vote during the passage of the recent health laws? How does your candidate view health reforms — as an investment to development or an expense to government? These are important questions to ask,” Galban added.
For her part, Carmen Auste of the Cancer Warriors Foundation underscored that candidates for local executive positions should be gauged based on their health programs. “Do they have viable and concrete health programs? Does their agenda include promoting and supporting health related initiatives?
“Ask questions, find out what their focus is and what their record is. That is our responsibility as voters. We should also choose candidates without any links to and are able to stand up against Big Tobacco, Big Alcohol. Come May 13, when we cast our votes, we should choose and vote into office health champions who will continue the current momentum for reforms in the health sector. We should choose candidates who will be the voice of patients and their families,” Auste said.
The health advocates do not endorse any particular candidate. They leave it up to the voters to choose the best candidates who will continue to champion health concerns.
Philippines need strong health programs
The health advocates explained that having health champions among our politicians are a must as the country remain vulnerable to health concerns.
“As of 2012, about two-thirds of Filipinos or 67% died due to non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes. Of this number, a third died due to heart ailments,” Galvez-Tan said. “These are preventable deaths, and having the right policies and health services in place would have contributed to its prevention and cure,” he added.
“Putting in place these legislations and programs are the roles of our political leaders. This is why it is crucial to have the right people in power. This is an important responsibility we should definitely own,” Auste said.
“Our appeal to voters — go out, vote, and make it count. Bumoto ng tama ng naaayon sa konsensya (Vote right, according to your conscience),” Galban added.
On May 13, about 60 million Filipinos are expected to troop to the polls to vote for senatorial and local candidates. Of this number, more than half are female voters and nearly a third come from the youth sector.##
Ralph Emerson Degollacion
Coordinator, Healthy Philippines Alliance
Mobile Number: +63.917.863.3086
Download here: Vote Wisely, Choose Pro-health Candidates_09May2019