Support for universal health care law enjoined

Published May 31, 2018, 2:52 PM

by iManila Developer

By Chito Chavez

People’s organizations including senior citizens, people with disability, patients, and tobacco victims have renewed their public appeal to support the Universal Health Care law on World No Tobacco Day.

The International Labor Organization had justified its ties to tobacco companies as a way of helping improve the working conditions of the some 60 million people involved in tobacco leaf growing and production worldwide, notably in Africa and Asia. (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Emer Rojas, president of the Quezon City-based New Vois of the Philippines, (NVAP) said every Filipino should be automatically enrolled through Universal Health Care to address the gap in treatment and service provision for indigent patients.

With many Filipinos afflicted by lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Rojas noted that having access to Universal Health Care would ensure that they have a fighting chance in life.

“With Universal Health Care every Filipino, young and old, will be automatically enrolled into PhilHealth and each family would be matched to a family doctor who is linked to a network of specialists, clinics, pharmacies and hospitals whether general or specialty medical facilities,” Rojas said.

“This is to ensure that every family receives the appropriate services they require within the right facility,” he added.

The Universal Health Care bill, which is currently sitting in the Senate would best be implemented through the revenues derived from sin tax on tobacco.

This year’s theme of World No Tobacco Day revolves around the link of tobacco use and heart disease.

Rojas said tobacco use is a risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease and despite efforts to reduce tobacco-related deaths and diseases, there is still very low awareness that smoking is a leading cause of cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use is the second leading cause of CVD after high blood pressure with smoking and second-hand smoke contributing to approximately 12 percent of all heart disease deaths worldwide.

“The burden of tobacco-related illness and death is felt more in countries like the Philippines where 80 percent of the one billion smokers worldwide live in low and middle-income countries,” said Rojas.

Jorge Banal, president of the Federation of Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (FSCAP) NCR and Quezon City chapter said, CVD is one of the top killers in the Philippines and with other lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases such as cancer, respiratory diseases, and diabetes, make up half of all deaths in the country annually.

“Heart disease continues to threaten senior citizens and this shall be addressed through the Universal Health Care and effectively financed by tobacco taxes,” said Banal.

“With Universal Health Care we are hopeful that there will be more resources to raise awareness and address these issues to reduce the prevalence of smoking and eventually heart disease as well as provide medical care for all CVD victims,” Banal concluded.

Rojas noted that people’s organizations will continue to rally for universal access to health care and increased taxes against tobacco firms.