June 23, 2024

There will be no patient left behind if and when the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act will be fully implemented in the city and in the entire country.

Councilor Joel Alangsab, principal author of the Universal Health Care Ordinance, said under the law, barangay healthcare workers will be the primary care providers so health care becomes more accessible to everyone, especially the poor.

Stressing the importance of having access to healthcare, he said anyone from the family could be a patient. He added the UHC Act provides everyone access to healthcare services without experiencing financial stress.

On Feb. 20, 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the UHC Act to ensure equitable access to quality and affordable healthcare and protection against financial risk. It also provides solutions for all the timely and relevant medical concerns.

One of the principles of the law is to have a people-centered approach, where people’s safety, health, and access to an affordable medical experience are prioritized. There will be a primary care provider team for every family, healthy living, schooling, and working environment.

The Universal Health Care Ordinance of Baguio City aims to institutionalize and localize the national law and enhance and strengthen the implementation of the UHC Act in the city. It will tailor-fit the universal health care programs to the specific needs of the locality.

In 2019, the Department of Health chose Baguio City as a site for the advance implementation of the UHC Act.

During a series of public consultations conducted by the sangguniang panlungsod through the office of Alangsab, the DOH and the PhilHealth were invited to present certain provisions of the UHC Act.

Stefanie Sereno, a department management officer of the DOH-CAR, said many people have been struggling to access health care due to the scarcity of healthcare workers, especially in the grassroots and due to financial reasons.

She said the most common healthcare problems in the localities are maternal and infant diseases; low immunization rates, expensive medical bills, indigents solely paying for their healthcare bills, public hospitals being overly crowded, and scarcity in healthcare workers.

She said more people are pushed into poverty because of little to no access to healthcare.

Lovella Severo, another DOH-CAR officer, said the current healthcare system is fragmented and there is need to overhaul or reform it to make it more holistic and responsive to the needs of the people.

She said by 2025, Baguio will have already fully implemented the UHC Act.

She said one of the major concerns in the present healthcare system is crowded hospitals that is why under UHC Act is the Health Care Provider Network (HCPN).

The HCPN serves as a gatekeeper to a number of people in a hospital where primary care can attend to minor illnesses and be directed to health centers. Major conditions, on the other hand, are referred to hospitals.

Also, the HCPN encourages barangay healthcare workers to enhance their capabilities and knowledge in order to properly attend to the needs of their constituents. 

She also highlighted the importance of the participation of the LGUs wherein they should enact healthcare legislations to help solve healthcare concerns. – Ariel John Suba