Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Monday urged the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to ensure the availability, accessibility, and affordability of medicines needed by Filipinos, especially during the current health crisis caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
“I am urging the DOH and DTI to review the list of drugs included in Executive Order 104 which imposes Maximum Drug Retail Prices (MDRP) on certain drugs and medicines in accordance with the Cheaper Medicines Act. EO (Executive Order) 104 was issued prior to the declaration of a public health emergency, hence, medicines relative to the treatment of COVID-19 and related conditions may not have been contemplated then, but should be considered now,” Go said.
Go is chairman of the Senate Health and Demography Committee, and an advocate of universal health care access for all Filipinos.
“By expanding the list included in the MDRP with the possible inclusion of other drugs and medicines that may help in treating COVID-19 patients and other related or prevalent illnesses at this time, we can assure Filipinos that they will have access to available and affordable medicines, and they will not be subjected to abusive business practices that take advantage of their vulnerabilities during this national health emergency,” he stressed.
“Bilang halimbawa, may mga nababalitang ‘overcharging’ ng mga gamot sa mga ospital na isinasama na lang sa total bill ng mga pasyente. Walang choice ang pasyente kundi bayaran ito upang magamot at makauwi. Nakakalungkot ito dahil sa oras na dapat magdamayan at magmalasakit tayo sa isa’t isa, merong mga tao na pinipiling pagsamantalahan pa ang kapwa nilang Pilipino. Handa po tayong imbestigahan ang mga ito,’’ Go said. (As an example, there are reports of overcharging of medicines in the hospitals that were included in the total bill of the patients. The patients have no choice but to pay so they could be treated and go home. It is unfortunate that there are people who take advantage of the situation of their fellow Filipinos instead of helping them. We’re ready to investigate this.)
“Nabalitaan ko rin na mayroong iilang mga gamot na mahirap hanapin at hindi nabebenta o napapamahagi sa mga nangangailangan nito. Hindi tayo dapat pumayag na pagsamantalahan ng iilan ang sitwasyon kung saan ang mga mahihirap ay namamatay na lang dahil hindi makabili ng gamot. Dapat pantay-pantay at hindi lang ang mga may kaya sa buhay ang makakabili ng mga gamot na kailangan upang gumaling,’’ he added. (I have received some reports that there are medicines that can hardly be found and are not being sold or made available to those who need it. We should not allow some individuals to take advantage of the situation wherein the poor are likely to die because they cannot afford to buy the needed medicines. It should be fair to everyone.)
“Ngayon pa lang, siguraduhin na natin na may kapasidad ang gobyerno na gawing available, accessible, at affordable ang iba’t ibang mga medisina na kailangan ng mga may sakit. Kapag dumating ang panahon na mayroon nang vaccine at gamot laban sa COVID-19, dapat handa tayo na mabigyan ang lahat ng Pilipinong nangangailangan nito, mahirap man o mayaman,’’ he explained. (Let’s ensure now that the government has the capacity to make the needed medicines available, accessible, and affordable. Once the vaccine and the medicines against the COVID-19 are here, we should be ready to provide them to all Filipinos, whether they’re poor or rich.)
“As I have said many times before, healthcare is a right, not a commodity. We must prioritize the general welfare of our people over the business profits of a few. Unahin natin palagi ang interes, kapakanan, at buhay ng ordinaryong mga Pilipino,’’ he added. (Let’s always prioritize the interest, welfare, and lives of the ordinary Filipinos.)