Manila senior citizens get free maintenance meds


Starting this month, the Manila City government will provide free monthly maintenance medicines to its senior citizens who are suffering from chronic diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Initially, Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada set aside P66 million for the Manila Health Department (MHD) to procure maintenance medicines that will be distributed through the city’s 59 community health centers.

“Thousands of senior citizens in Manila are suffering from chronic diseases. Medicines are costly but how much more if they are to be taken everyday. How can our senior citizens afford their medications?” Estrada said during the formal launch of “Libreng Gamot Para sa Nakatatandang Manilenyo” program.

Maintenance drugs are medications prescribed for chronic, long-term conditions and are taken on a regular, recurring basis.

According to the Office for Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA), of the 132,000 registered senior citizens in the city, 20 percent or about 26,000 are diagnosed with health problems that require maintenance medicines.

“Aside from the 20 percent who need maintenance drugs, about 50 percent more are suffering from other illnesses. As long as we can afford it, we will help them.” said Estrada, who at 79 years old is also suffering from asthma.

The city mayor said the distribution of free maintenance drugs to Manila’s elderly is one of his banner programs for 2017, hence the P360-million increase in the MHD’s budget this year.

MHD chief Dr. Benjamin Yson said the initial amount of P66 million intended for the program will suffice for the needs of about 26,000 senior citizens diagnosed with serious illnesses this year.

The program focuses on three major chronic diseases – hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Maintenance drugs to be provided for free are Losartan, Amlodipine, and Metoprolol for hypertension; and Simvastatin for high cholesterol.

During the first few months of the program, a registered senior citizen will initially receive about P2,000 to P3,000 worth of maintenance medicines a month from their respective barangay health centers; they will also be made to undergo regular checkup to monitor their health condition, also free of charge.

Senior citizens in Manila are entitled to free medical checkups, hospitalization, medicines and other healthcare services in the six city-run public hospitals and 59 community health centers. They also receive a P500 cash gift on their birthday.

Moreover, the city government has also started giving out P6,000 social pensions annually to indigent senior citizens.

Since April, 17 centenarians or those who are 100-years-old or more have been given P100,000 each, with many more being processed in the coming weeks.

Aside from the P100,000 cash gift, every centenarian also receives P10,000 during the yearly celebration of Araw ng Maynila on June 24.

Manila’s elderly can also watch movies for free on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays in any movie houses in the city.   JAIME PILAPIL


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