Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Philippines - Taking after Cuban health care system a step in right direction – NVAP

Cancer survivor group New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) welcomes the Duterte administration's move to send a delegation to Cuba to study its world-renowned public health system in a bid to improve health services being offered to Filipinos.

A contingent of health professionals led by Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial is currently in the Latin American country to meet with their Cuban counterparts.

NVAP President Emer Rojas said there is so much that the Philippines can learn from the Cuban health care system, which is recognized even by the World Health Organization for its efficiency in making health services available to all.

Despite the country's limited resources, health care in Cuba is free and universal. Health is a fundamental right that is enshrined in their constitution and guaranteed by the state.

Rojas said the Philippines can take inspiration from the Cuban model considering that access to health services is a huge problem in the country.

"It is estimated that 63% of Filipinos die without ever seeing a doctor and many do not have access to medicines specially in rural areas. By taking inspiration from Cuba's health care, we hope that access to health services will improve under the Duterte administration," Rojas said.

Rojas noted that Cuba's public health system is mainly anchored on preventive health care which enables the country to use its limited resources to research and development resulting to quality medical services.

"They have family doctors per area who oversea the health of families living around clinics. They do annual checkups and assessments for free. By doing these the system prevents people from getting sick and resources are used for other purposes like improving training for medical practitioners and technology development," the NVAP president said.

Rojas, a global cancer ambassador and persons with disability sector representative for the National Anti-Poverty Commission, said improving the country's public health system would greatly benefit smokers and PWDs who are two of the most disadvantaged sectors when it comes to accessing medical services.

Rojas noted that despite an improved membership enrolment by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) access to health care services is still limited to paying patients and health facilities mostly located in urban areas.

"Improving health care accessibility is an essential part of development. We are happy that the Duterte administration is taking the step in the right direction," he said.

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