86% of 20M poor Filipinos avail of DOH free checkup
By Jorge Hallare LEGAZPI CITY --- Some 86 percent of the 20 million poor Filipinos nationwide have availed of free medical consultation and checkup since the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte launched the health program last year and made it accessible to the poor. This was revealed by Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Pauline Jean Ubial during a press conference conducted Wednesday last week at Daguinsin Hall at the Department of Health Regional Office in Bicol (DOH-5) here in this city where she led the 7th ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Dengue Day celebration. Ubial said DOH chose the poorest 20 million from among the 105 million total population of the country who could qualify under the program because the budget of the government cannot provide for all. She said out of the 20 million, over 50,000 with various illnesses were scheduled to undergo free surgical procedures last June 1 in all hospitals operated by DOH and local government units. She added there will be another medical consultation on July 1 which targets to provide for another batch of 20 million poor Filipinos. By which time, she said, the program would have rendered free medical consultation service to a total of 40 million poor Filipinos for the second year of the program’s implementation. Here in Bicol, Dr. Napoleon Arevalo, DOH-Bicol director, reported they have implemented a free medical consultation program for the poorest members of the population in the region. “Out of the more than five million population in Bicol, DOH-Bicol was able to serve the poorest 1.4 million Bicolanos in various communities,” he said. Arevalo said the 1.4 million poor Bicolanos received free medical consultation in various DOH- and LGU-run hospitals in the region with support from some private hospitals. “Most of them will undergo free surgical procedures, including those with cases of cleft lip and cleft palette,” he said. DOH-Bicol was honored by DOH as a “topnotcher” among all the regions nationwide because of the “successful implementation” of its free medical check-up campaign. The DOH targets to include PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.) in the program so that it will be the latter which will pay for the medical consultation of other people seeking services in various government-run hospitals. “This is because DOH wants to include the most number of Filipinos, whether rich or poor, who could be given appropriate medical services,” she said. Ubial said that with regards to the government’s free medicine program, DOH has started giving medicine in the entire country with help from the local health centers, rural health centers and other government-run hospitals. “The government has allotted nearly P3 billion to DOH for free medicines for illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, tuberculosis and others,” she said. On the other hand, the government gave P1 billion to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) so it could help DOH distribute the free medicines for the poor which are in DSWD’s list.