Aquino launches new health program

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PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday declared that the “padrino system” in health services for the poor has ended as he vowed to help local government officials needing health support programs from the national government.

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Speaking before officials of the Health department, Philippine Health Insurance Corp and various local government units in Metro Manila, the President said his administration was successful in stamping out “patronage politics” especially in availing health services.

The President launched the Alaga Ka program which aims to disseminate health projects for the poor.

Unlike in the past when people had to queue to avail themselves of free government services, Aquino said the new program aims to educate the 14.7 million poor families about the services offered at no or very little cost by the Department of Health and Philhealth.

He said the public must maximize the benefits they can derive from these health programs, including micronutrient supplements, maternal and neonatal care package and family planning. He added that the sick can get free medical treatment in government hospitals.

With the president during the launch were Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Education Secretary, Brother Armin Luistro, PhilHealth President and CEO, Alex Padilla and other Philihealth and local government officials.

Saying “information is power,” Aquino said many Filipinos are still unaware of the various health programs being offered by the government. Because of this, the ALAGA KA program aims to achieve the widest dissemination of existing projects in the health sector.

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  1. Due to corruption and incompetence, the state of our healthcare system remains horrible. While the rich have the best healthcare facilities available to them, the poor have only the congested, ill-equipped, underfunded public hospitals and clinics to go to where they are required to buy their own medical supplies first before they get attended to. Many poor don’t bother to see doctors anymore because they can’t afford to pay the fees and cost of medication. The doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals are so poorly-paid that many of them leave to work in other countries. Whatever the government claims now to be improvement in the system is nothing but “band-aid dressing” to our pathetic two-tier medicare system.

    The solution to our healthcare woes is universal healthcare, Cuba-style. Cuba has a world-class medical system that provides free excellent services to all Cubans, regardless of their social standings. Yet, Cuba is a poor country like the Philippines. A universal healthcare will remove the “padrino” system where indigent patients have to go to politician-padrinos to get get free medications and get attended to at a public hospital or clinic.

    In a universal healthcare system, like Cuba’s, patients go straight to doctors, and if necessary, hospitalized. When well enough, the patients are released without any bill to pay.

    In our poor Philippines, some hospitals hold patients, or even dead bodies of patients, as hostages until the bills are fully paid. Due to our horrible system, indigent Filipinos are dying of TB, dengue and other diseases – like flies.