House Speaker unveils ‘transformative’ healthcare agenda for all

By Zaldy De Layola

April 28, 2024, 6:42 pm

<p>Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez  <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez  (File photo)

MANILA – The House of Representatives will undertake a “transformative journey” to uplift health services and primary care for all Filipinos.

Addressing fellow graduates from Cornell University during the Spring Brunch and Education Forum in Tagaytay City on Saturday, Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said on top of their initiatives is the comprehensive review of the charter of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), the country’s premier health insurance provider.

“We are not just lawmakers. We are collaborators, working closely with executive agencies to uplift the living conditions under President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s administration,” he said in a news release.

He said PhilHealth must mirror the efficiency of health maintenance organizations.

“This shift is about more than expanding coverage. It’s about ensuring PhilHealth evolves into a pillar of our Universal Health Care System, providing a safety net that is robust, compassionate and equitable,” he pointed out.

During the National Women’s Month in March, Romualdez commended PhilHealth for its swift response to the House advocacy by raising the benefit package for breast cancer patients to an unprecedented PHP1.4 million, a remarkable increase from the previous coverage of PHP100,000.

He also lauded the PhilHealth initiative to provide free annual mammogram and ultrasound services, slated to commence in July.

He said it is a clear testament to the administration’s commitment to preventive care, ensuring that every woman has access to essential diagnostic services.

Another symbol of the government’s dedication, Romualdez said, was the recent establishment of the Philippine Cancer Center in Quezon City.

Set to be constructed on a 5,000-square-meter lot within the Philippine Blood Center complex in Diliman, it will also be a modern teaching and research hospital.

Each of the 20 floors will be dedicated to different types of cancers, ranging from hepatic, renal, and gastrointestinal to lung, breast, reproductive organs of women, skin, and rare cancers.

The center aims to provide comprehensive services encompassing diagnosis, treatment, research, and patient support.

“Through these infrastructures, we aim to encapsulate the very essence of care and prevention taught to us at Cornell -- knowledge in service of society,” he said.

Romualdez also highlighted several legislative achievements that underscore the House's dedication to healthcare reform and accessibility.

Among these are the amendment to the Universal Health Care Act, Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers, and establishment of the Virology Institute of the Philippines.

He also emphasized the House's active oversight role, particularly in monitoring the implementation of health-related laws, which includes the conduct of inquiries into gaps in the execution of laws for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, leading to recommendations aimed at harmonizing benefits and improving services.

“As a result of these inquiries, senior citizens and persons with disabilities will soon be able to enjoy an increase to PHP500 per month in discounts on groceries and other prime commodities,” he added.

Romualdez pursued his undergraduate studies at Cornell University in New York, United States from 1981 to 1985, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government. (PNA)