Virlanie Foundation, together with its partner participating civil society organizations (CSOs) call for creating more inclusive quality local and public health care services and systems at the Health for All, One for Health forum held last April 5, 2019 at Islas Pinas, Pasay City.
The event’s participants, together with the event’s guest speakers: Atty. Harry Roque, Universal Health Care act proponent; Dr. Allan Evangelista, Chief Health Program Officer at the Bureau of International Health Cooperation (Department of Health); Richard Tercio, Mental Health Advocate and Visual Artist; and Cenen Milan, Virlanie’s Programs Director; all expressed their support in lobbying and advocating for inclusive healthcare for all.
Health for All, One for Health Forum was organized in-line with Operation Kalinga, Virlanie’s health campaign, and the recent signing of the Universal Health Care Act or Republic Act 11223 last February 21, 2019. The Act enacts the provision of full-range health care services at affordable costs- this includes preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative health services.
A call to fill the gaps
“The Philippines remains deeply underserved. The out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure of 56% is very high for Filipino families in terms of health expenditure,” says Dr. Evangelista. Over 8 million Filipinos who have not fully availed health services from the government are the most vulnerable to health-related risks due to poverty.
The UHC’s primary aim is to extend health services to lessen the OOP expenditures for health services by automatically enrolling all Filipinos in the national health care insurance system, PhilHealth. PhilHealth will be the agency responsible for purchasing and providing health goods and services to dependent individuals.
However, there remains gaps in the available popularized version of the law as its implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) are yet to be written. These gaps, such as specifying how street children and indigent families- Virlanie’s target population- be able to avail of UHC’s services, capacitation of local and public healthcare facilities and services, are yet to be addressed in the law’s IRRs.
“The biggest challenge of the Universal Health Care Act is the lack of implementing rules and regulations. It is the duty of the State to advance the right to health,” says Atty. Roque, UHCA primary proponent.
Apart from improving medical health services and capacitation of local and public healthcare centers, the inclusion of providing affordable and accessible mental health services in the UHC was also emphasized, with specialist services such as Psychiatric and Psychological Services having as much importance as physiological healthcare.
“When someone has a mental issue, we have to give them courage to help themselves,” Tercio says. Being an individual who has experienced struggles with mental illness, he encourages the event participants to also prioritize and advocate for the importance of children’s mental health.
Virlanie’s own Health pillar programs which were presented by Cenen Milan, Virlanie Program Director, were developed to address its beneficiaries’ medical, dental, and psychological needs. Virlanie believes that health is a right for everyone and is necessary for every individual to be at optimum health conditions – far from possible health risks, and for them to live their lives to the fullest.
Arlyne Fernandez, Virlanie’s Deputy Executive Director, wrapped-up the forum by presenting Virlanie’s call to actions for its event participants, which are capacitation of barangay health centers in poorer communities to provide indigent families with accessible and quality complete health services and health care information and education; and improvement of major public healthcare facilities such as hospitals.
The fight for inclusive healthcare continues after the event, as the participants are hoped to become advocates of inclusive health care.
Operation Kalinga or OK is Virlanie’s health and wellness campaign which aims to encourage our supporters to make complete health and nutrition care, and psycho-social services available to our children to ensure every child’s overall physiological and psychological growth and well-being.