DOH eyeing to provide PhilHealth coverage to Filipino boxers, MMA


By Analou De Vera

The Department of Health (DOH) is eyeing to provide Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) coverage to professional Filipino boxers and mixed martial arts fighters.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said it is one of the concerns raised to him by Games and Amusement Board (GAB) chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (AP Photo/Aaron Favila / MANILA BULLETIN) Health Secretary Francisco Duque III
(AP Photo/Aaron Favila / MANILA BULLETIN)

"In fact, one of the issues raised by Chairman Mitra is also the possibility of getting them automatically enrolled as PhilHealth members so that they will not need to worry for the long term. But of course the membership is on annual basis and therefore the subsidy has to be sustained by way of government subsidy," Duque said during a Friday press briefing.

"We will try to work out on an agreement between DOH and perhaps PhilHealth and the GAB to prioritize enrollment of all of our professional athletes," he added.

To further ensure the health and welfare of the professional Filipino boxers and MMA fighters, the DOH and GAB signed Friday the extension of a memorandum of agreement which will provide free medical examinations for the said athletes.

Under the agreement, the DOH shall provide the said athletes with free medical, eye, neurological, neurophysiological examinations and diagnostic examinations including CT scan or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

In 2017, both agencies signed the MOA, which was then effective for at least a year. The program received an overall positive feedback and recommended its continuation with a minimum validity period of two years.

“It is within the mandate of the DOH to ensure that our noble citizens, our sports icons, our very talented athletes, that they will be given the sufficient and sustained support for them to excel in this particular endeavor, which is sports,” Duque said.

The health chief said professional athletes need much bigger support given that they bring pride and honor to the country.

"Therefore, it is fair, it is right to expect that the government must really rally behind not just in words, not just in terms of articulated agreements, but really this support must really translated to actual assistance in medical care,” he said.