Anakalusugan party-list and senatorial candidate Dr. Willie Ong have teamed up for the May 13 polls to push for a truly responsive and inclusive healthcare system in the country.
“We need a partner in the House of Representatives to come up with key legislation that will promote and protect the health and well-being of all Filipinos. I have found that partner in Anakalusugan, a party-list that truly represents us all – rich and poor, young and old – because health knows no political color nor economic class,” said Ong, a social media sensation who has continued to lead Facebook surveys among senatorial bets.
“We are honored to join forces with Doc Willie. His advocacy is aligned with our own in Anakalusugan – that of pushing for affordable and accessible healthcare for all Filipinos,” party-list nominee Mike Defensor said.
“Together, we will be a force to reckon with in Congress not just in passing necessary laws but also in serving as the Filipinos’ watchdog to ensure that Philhealth and the Department of Health deliver the services expected of them,” Defensor added.
Just as Anakalusugan is the sole party-list running on a health platform in the forthcoming midterm polls, Ong also holds the distinction of being the only doctor running for the Senate.
“We really are in the midst of a health crisis – we have at least 60 percent of sick Filipinos who die without even being able to see a doctor. The cost of healthcare and medical procedures in the Philippines is one of the highest in Asia. You have the rising number of dengue cases and a measles outbreak as well. All these make the need for health advocates in Congress an urgent matter,” Ong said.
The doctor, a former consultant of the DOH who has been conducting medical missions for at least 25 years now, said a priority would be to closely monitor the crafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Universal Health Care Law.
DOH and PhilHealth have 180 days to come up with the IRR since the landmark measure, which would pave the way for the inclusion of all Filipinos in the National Health Insurance Program, was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February.
Anakalusugan, for its part, is advocating for a three-point priority health agenda: to ensure that all maintenance medicines are given free of charge under PhilHealth; to provide free diagnostic tests to cover not just the curative but also the preventive aspect of healthcare; and to allocate a fixed amount of allowance for barangay health workers and barangay nutrition scholars.
“You need a blood test or a diagnostic exam to get a proper prescription and accurately identify your illness, but in rural areas, the nearest hospital or clinic may be several towns away. The cost of these tests as well as that of maintenance medicines are also prohibitive,” Anakalusugan nominee Ower Andal said.
Barangay health workers and nutrition scholars, on the other hand, are the proverbial “bagong bayani” who are on the frontline in delivering medical services, especially in areas where there are no public doctors, party-list nominee Darlo Ginete said.
“They are our unsung heroes. We should take care of them by ensuring they get just compensation in the form of allowance and other incentives for taking care of our health,” Ginete said.