By Ellson Quismorio
House Minority Leader Benny Abante raised his concerns Wednesday over the worldwide vulnerability of elderly individuals against the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which still has no known cure.
“The elderly account for the majority of those who have lost their lives to the virus, and this only serves to emphasize that the elderly require special care given their vulnerabilities,” Abante said in the House minority bloc’s weekly press conference.
The 2019-nCoV, which causes an acute respiratory disease, originated in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Of the 400-plus confirmed deaths there, over half were beyond the age of 60.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), three individuals in the Philippines have now been confirmed to have contracted the virus. The latest case is a 60-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan, the epicenter of the health scare.
Upgrade of National Center for Geriatric Health
“This is why I would like to again call on my colleagues to support one of my bills, House Bill (HB) No. 3939, which will convert the National Center for Geriatric Health (NCGH) into the National Geriatric Health and Research Institute (NCGHRI) and finally establish a fully-operational hospital that will cater to health services specifically for the elderly,” said the solon from Manila.
“Such a facility is needed now, more than ever, to ensure that elderly Filipinos exposed to viruses such as the 2019-nCov can receive the specialized treatment needed to help them survive such outbreaks,” said Abante, a former pastor.
The NCGH is currently just an outpatient department under the Jose Reyes Memorial Center. It is not operational because of the absence of a law that allows for its operations.
Also known as The National Center for Geriatric Health and Research Institute Act, the measure establishes the NCGHRI, a 100-bed hospital that will be attached to the DOH.
Under the measure, no less than 40 percent of the NCGHRI’s hospital beds shall be allocated for indigent patients.
The NCGHRI shall, among others:
(1) equip, maintain, administer, and operate an integrated medical institution that specializes in geriatric health services;
(2) provide and maintain affordable, quality, and timely hospital care through an efficient health service delivery system that prioritizes the need of the elderly; and
(3) coordinate the various efforts and activities of other government agencies and local government units for the purpose of achieving effective approaches to the delivery of geriatric health services.
Funding for the NCGHRI shall be sourced from the DOH under the General Appropriations Act. Aside from these funds, the NCGHRI will also have its own trust fund composed of contributions from taxes, donations, and income from its pay wards.
Donations to NCGHRI shall be exempt from donor’s tax and will be considered an allowable deduction from the gross income of the donor consistent with the provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997.