Advancements in Philippine healthcare took center-stage after President Benigno S. Aquino III formally launched two medical programs aimed at improving and expanding healthcare coverage to include diarrhea vaccines for children and cancer treatment for all Filipinos in Malacañang on Monday.
The President, who was joined by Health Secretary Enrique Ona and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation president and CEO Eduardo Banzon, led the back-to-back inauguration of the DoH’s Rota Virus Vaccine campaign and Philhealth’s “Z” Benefits package program.
In his speech, the President said the event highlighted his Administration’s commitment to give equal importance to alleviating poverty by focusing not on only the health of the country, economy and government but also the overall health of all Filipinos as well.
“…to win this war on poverty, we must also turn our attention to public health we want our people to be empowered individuals capable of standing on their own two feet—strong, healthy, and skilled men and women who can take advantage of the opportunities life affords them,” the President said.
The President added that these two medical programs “are expected to contribute to our goal of safeguarding the health and well-being” of all Filipinos.
He said that 700,000 infants from families listed in the National Household Targeting System of the Department of Social Welfare and Development will be vaccinated from the rota virus, the most common cause of diarrhea in infants and children.
The “Z” Benefits Package, meanwhile, expands the coverage of Philhealth illnesses list to include “catastrophic illnesses” or illnesses that are literally catastrophic not only to one’s health but also to one’s financial situation and emotional and psychological well-being.
“For the first time in its history, Philhealth now provides benefits that can cover the treatment of diseases that cost roughly P100,000 to P200,000,” the President said.’
“This represents a change in the way Philhealth does business. Instead of focusing on one claim or on one treatment alone, the focus is on the patient himself: from the surgery to post-operation care and even to therapy. The Z Benefit Package provides full coverage for our countrymen suffering from dire illnesses, opening new doors to Filipinos in the margins of society,” he added.
Under the benefit package, the catastrophic illnesses that are initially covered are early stage breast cancer, standard risk childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and low to intermediate risk prostate cancer.
The President stressed that Philhealth will further expand the coverage of this program in the coming months.
“This occasion represents the very goals of our universal healthcare: to ease the burden of our countrymen already struggling to put food on their tables by lending them a helping hand for their other needs; and to support Juan and Juana dela Cruz from beginning to end, in the most common of illnesses and in the most catastrophic,” the President said.
“Just as fighting corruption and poverty are the means to ensure a healthier, fairer and more prosperous society, so too will programs like these help improve our public health system, resulting in a society where the vulnerable are made strong, and the weak are empowered to contribute to the well-being and the happiness of the whole,” he added.