The party-list group Anakalusugan is pushing for the creation and full operation of health centers in all barangays across the country as part of its health advocacy, saying it is the right of every Filipino to have access to quality health care services.
The creation of health centers, fully staffed and manned by highly competent and qualified medical personnel, is one of the key legislative measures that the party-list group will push in Congress as it seeks three seats through next year’s midterm elections.
“Based on what we have seen and on data that we have, there seems to be a laxity in our barangay health stations,” said lawyer Adorlito Ginete, former president of the Batangas Mayors League.
“One of the measures that we will be pushing is for the country to have a health station in every barangay so that Filipinos, especially those who are poor, will have equal access to health care services,” he added.
Ginete, who prioritized the health concerns of his constituents during his three-year term as mayor of Sta. Teresita, Batangas, is a nominee of Anakalusugan, along with former Housing Czar Mike Defensor and former Philippine National Railways general manager Emmanuel Andal.
First hand encounter
In pushing for the creation of health stations nationwide, Ginete was moved by the overall health situation in the municipalities of Sta. Teresita, Sta. Ana and Lasam in Cagayan which he and Anakalusugan recently visited for an emergency relief mission post-Typhoon Ompong.
His first-hand account was backed by reports that were later submitted by officials and the municipal health officers of the three impoverished far-flung municipalities.
During the two-day aid mission, Ginete and Anakalusugan gave out cash and distributed food packs and medicines to more than 4,000 families who are considered as among the poorest of the poor in Cagayan.
In Barangay Luga in Sta. Ana, the team shelled out P15,000 for the repair of the public elementary school building and its clinic that were damaged by the typhoon. In Barangay Buyun, still in Sta. Teresita, Anakalusugan gave P13,600 for the rehabilitation of its child development center on top of the food packs and medicines that were given to the families previously by the typhoon.
“If we will be lucky to sit in Congress with your help, the first thing that we will do is to give attention to access to medical services by a far-flung area like this,” Ginete said, which was received by resounding applause from the affected villagers.
“Una po, kami ay makakatulong sa pagpapasaayos ng mga health centers ng mga barangay at makakapagpaabot ng libreng gamot,” he added in the vernacular.
The first nominee of Anakalusugan said they would also make sure that medical missions will reach remote barangays, and one way to achieve this is through mobile clinics.
Lasam Mayor Majorie Salazar and the villagers took Anakalusugan’s core programs to heart while thanking Ginete and the party-list group for the relief assistance.
“Do not forget our party-list… Anakalusugan,” Salazar said.
Alejandrina Crisostomo, 71, who is from the village of Luga in Sta. Teresita, said the relief assistance from Anakalusugan was the second relief package that have reached them after an aid coming from the local government unit.
“Since you are helping us, if you would also like us to help you, we would help you,” she said.
Lacking medical staff, health facilities
During the relief mission in Lasam, Municipal Health Officer Lorelei Remando furnished Ginete and Anakalusugan a report on the municipality’s health situation, noting the “understaffing of the health office” and the absence of a birthing center.
“The LGU (local government unit) does not give due compensation to its health workers. Our salary grade follow the third class classification, whereas all other municipalities in the region follow the national rate of compensation for their health workers. In addition, we don’t receive the hazard pay,” she said.
“Our budget allocation is less than five percent of the total internal revenue allotment, and some barangays have no barangay health stations. Only a room in the barangay hall is assigned for health workers to use and is not well equipped,” she added.
She said the local government “only gets alarmed when an outbreak arises.”
The municipal health officer said malnutrition was rampant in her municipality due to poverty.
The municipality’s Rural Health Unit, which services the medical and health needs of the 30 barangays of Lasam, is only staffed by one doctor, a medical technologist, three nurses, five rural health midwives, two sanitary inspectors and one dental aid work. The RHU does not have a dentist.
She said that among the ailments that they were attending to were acute respiratory infection; hypertension; bronchitis; community-acquired pneumonia; lacerated wound; acute gastroenteritis; dyspepsia; dermatitis and urinary tract infection.
“Infectious diseases and hypertension still top the list of most common cases seen at RHU,” Remando said.
Nearly the same concern
In Sta. Teresita, Dr. Cynthia Lyn Melchor, the municipal health officer, reported almost a similar situation to Ginete and Anakalusugan.
Melchor said medicines and even medical equipment were lacking in health centers in the municipality’s 13 barangays.
She also noted of the rising cases of “presumptive” tuberculosis in one barangay and hypertension in another village, problems that were exacerbated by the absence of monitoring equipment and drugs.