By Hannah Torregoza
Detained Senator Leila De Lima today called for the passage of a measure that would institutionalize a comprehensive sight recovery program to address the prevalence of vision defects, including blindness, in the country.
De Lima is Senate Bill No. 1709, or the proposed National Sight Strategy Plan Act, seeks to address the serious and negative impact that vision defects pose to Filipinos.
“Sight is one of the most prized senses. But the high incidence of vision defects and abnormalities poses serious public health issues,” De Lima said in the explanatory note of her bill.
De Lima noted that about 2 million Filipinos are estimated to suffer from moderate to severe visual impairment.
The Philippines, based on the World Health Organization (WHO), is among three countries in the Western Pacific that account for the most incidence of blindness in the region, according to the senator.
“Visual impairment results in lost employment opportunities, decreases productivity, impedes learning and diminishes the general well-being of those who suffer from them,” she stressed.
“This proposed measure seeks to address the need to strengthen vision care in the country,” De Lima said.
The bill mandates the Department of Health (DOH) to formulate a strategy that should address the collection, collation, organization and publication of data and statistics on the incidence and prevalence of vision abnormalities.
The DOH also shall be tasked to lead in formulating and implementing a comprehensive national strategy to address vision health issues, including the conduct of public education promoting and improving vision health at all ages.
She said the agency is also mandated to lead in developing the study and practice of vision health-related professions.
De Lima said the bill likewise directs the DOH to undertake studies and consultation to formulate recommendations on the inclusion of vision care services in national health programs.
“I am hopeful that this Senate inquiry will serve as the solid foundation atop which we can build the world-class education system that the Filipino people deserve,” the senator reiterated.