‘Public health first’: Robredo aims for free health care in response to COVID-19

Published November 3, 2021, 7:29 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Vice President Leni Robredo wants to make health care “free and accessible” for every Filipino amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Vice President Leni Robredo (OVP)

In a five-minute video posted Wednesday, Nov. 3 on her official Facebook page, Robredo also bared plans to build a tertiary hospital in every region and province so there will be no need to go from town-to-town in search of an available hospital bed.

“Nakakatakot magkasakit. Marami nang nawawalan ng mahal sa buhay. Marami nang nabaon sa utang dahil sa gastos. Kaya bago ang lahat, public health muna (It’s scary to get sick. Many have lost their loved ones. Many are in debt because of the expenses. That’s why, before anything else, prioritize public health),” she said.

“Libre at accessible na healthcare. Libreng konsulta gamit ang teknolohiya. Bawat barangay may sapat na kagamitan at may sariling nurse. Bibigyan natin ng sapat na kakayahan ang mga nurse, doktor, barangay health worker, at iba pang medical frontliner (Free and accessible health care. Free consultations using technology. Every barangay should have the proper equipment and its own nurse. We will capacitate the nurses, doctors, barangay health workers, and other medical frontliner),” Robredo added.

Robredo, who is vying for presidency in the 2022 polls, further detailed her pandemic action plan, dubbed as “Kalayaan sa COVID,” on her official website www.lenirobredo.com.

READ: COVID-19 response is PH’s no. 1 priority — Robredo

Citing the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team, the Vice President said that there is only 0.6 hospital bed for every 1,000 Filipinos. This is in stark contrast to neighboring countries like Singapore, which has a ratio of 2.5 beds per 1,000 persons, and in Vietnam, which has 2.6 beds for every 1,000 population.

But to have the budget for this, she emphasized the importance of eradicating corruption and anomalies in the public health care sector, as well as to have a competent head of the government’s COVID response strategy.

Robredo promised also to care for medical frontliners, who are at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19.

“Sapat na sahod para sa frontliners, at sapat na suporta sa mga ospital. Para kung magkasakit ka, makakakuha ka ng atensyong medikal na walang inaalala (Enough wages for frontliners, and enough support for the hospitals. So that if you get sick, you will get proper medical attention without worrying about anything),” she said.

“Fixing” PhilHealth, the country’s health insurance provider, is also her priority, as well as to make the claims process more systematic and to provide vaccines to everyone.

READ: Strong COVID response will help upturn PH economy — VP Robredo

Private hospitals have earlier called on the state’s health insurer for failure to process claims and pay such claims on time. This incapacitates private hospitals as they are unable to pay their employees on time and provide proper wages and hazard pay for medical frontliners.

This is not the first time that Robredo highlighted the need to care for medical frontliners.

During the height of the coronavirus outbreak, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) provided personal protective equipment (PPE), hot meals, free shuttle services, and dormitories for nurses and other health professionals.

She also initiated the Bayanihan E-Konsulta program, a free medical teleconsult platform for those who cannot afford to consult with a physician.

Volunteer doctors and non-medical personnel man the platform.