PRIMARY CARE VAN. Department of Health officer-in-charge Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire (center) speaks during the launching of the primary care van in Manaoag town, Pangasinan on Nov. 18, 2022. The van offers free X-ray and ECG services. (PNA photo by Hilda Austria)

MANAOAG, Pangasinan – Some 420 residents of this town have availed of free services of the Department of Health (DOH)'s primary care van.

In an interview on Tuesday, Gina Gomez, one of the beneficiaries, said the van has saved her time and money.

"I usually go to Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan City to have my X-ray and electrocardiogram (ECG) but with the primary care van, I need not go far and I could also avail the services for free," she said.

Mayor Jeremy Agerico Rosario, in a separate interview on Monday, said the van has already served more than 400 residents since the launching on Nov. 18.

"The van is operational during weekdays, situated in front of the Rural Health Unit," he said.

He added they are considering the clustering of barangays in order to accommodate all the residents of the town.

"Aside from the free medical services, the primary care van raises awareness on some diseases that could be prevented by seeking medical intervention earlier," he said.

DOH officer-in-charge Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire, during the launching program last week, said the primary care program of the agency specifically focuses on illness prevention and promotion of health.

"Ibig sabihin bago pa man din magkasakit ang isang individual atin na itong napipigilan na mapunta siya doon sa kumplikado na ang kanyang sakit dahil we have prevented and promoted health in the community (It means that we would be able to prevent an individual's health worsened because we have prevented and promoted health in the community)," she said.

Vergeire said the van will go around Ilocos Region offering free X-ray and ECG as well as laboratory tests including detection tests for tuberculosis and Covid-19.

"We wanted to reach the far-flung areas for them to avail of these services that are not accessible to them," she said.

DOH-Ilocos Regional Director Paula Paz Sydiongco said the launching of the primary care van is part of the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law. (PNA)