By Betheena Kae Unite
A community-based healthcare program that has been inactive for seven years was recently revived by the Department of Health (DOH) to provide free medicines for common diseases to indigent residents.
The Botika ng Bayan (BNB) program was relaunched Friday and the first pilot site was established in San Mariano, Isabela.
The program, according to the DOH, will provide access to free essential medicines for common diseases in the community targeting indigent and marginalized sectors of the population.
It aims to cover all 2,600 rural health units and other government centers to have Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-licensed BNB outlets that will provide quality outpatient pharmacy services by 2022.
“While the DOH earlier issued a moratorium on the establishment of more BNBs, the program served its purpose of spurring generic competition and providing more affordable access to medicines for our citizens,” Undersecretary Enrique Domingo said.
“The BNB became a viable business model for generic pharmacies now spread out across the country bringing us toward the vision of more affordable medicines down to our villages,” Domingo added.
The healthcare program was a flagship program of the previous Arroyo administration but was temporarily stopped by the agency in 2011 to address issues on the lack of supervising pharmacists and an effective supply chain that could assure the constant availability of quality generic medicines in some 16,000 government-run community pharmacists established between 2001 and 2010.
Further, the DOH announced that the program will provide more essential medicines available for common diseases in the community, like infections, skin ailments, asthma and chronic noncommunicable diseases.
The BNB medicines consist of antibiotics, topical ointments, anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory, vitamins, antacids and other essential drugs for asthma, hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia.
Patient education and counseling will also be provided by licensed pharmacists and trained pharmacy assistants to be hired by the DOH and some LGUs with existing human resources.
Under the revived program, soldiers and policemen and their families are also included as beneficiaries in partnership with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police.