MANILA (Mabuhay) – The House Committee on Health has approved proposals to create the National Center for Geriatric Health, which shall provide a full range of healthcare services, including primary care, wellness services and behavioral healthcare to senior citizens and other older members of the country’s population.
Rep. Eufranio Eriguel (2nd District, La Union), committee chairman, directed the committee secretariat to consolidate the approved measures, namely House Bill 2834 authored by him and HB 2357 filed by Rep. Rosenda Ann Ocampo (6th District, Manila).
Eriguel, who is a doctor, said the approval was a great move on the part of the panel and expressed hope the proposal will be enacted into law during the 16th Congress. “It’s wonderful. Who is not excited about it?,” he said.
Representatives from the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Medical Association (PMA), Philippine College of Geriatric Medicine, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and senior citizens expressed their support for the proposal during the committee hearing.
He said the proposed creation of the National Center for Geriatric Health (NCGH) is in line with the mandate of the State to protect and promote the right to health of every Filipino by making quality and adequate health care available and accessible to everyone, especially to the underprivileged senior citizens and older persons.
“The NCGH shall focus on the medical needs of senior citizens and older persons, and shall be the first of its kind in the Philippines. It will ensure the social, psychological and biological aspects of aging members of the population, as well as improve research and studies on the diseases of older persons. This facility will enable senior citizens and older persons who are most vulnerable to diseases to avail of much needed specialized health care,” Eriguel said.
He further said the proposal encourages the active involvement of the private sector and other members of the public sector to help in the fulfillment of this mission.
Ocampo said as a tribute to the country’s elderly citizens, having served and contributed to the society in the prime of their life, it is only fitting to establish a hospital which primarily provides geriatric health services.
The proposed NCGH, a government-owned-and–controlled corporation shall be established for the primary benefit of senior citizens or older persons. It shall provide the following services: Hospital-based services with its wards divided into dementia, long-term care, palliative care, respite care and other units as may be deemed necessary; Community-based integrated geriatric health services and training for the social functioning of senior citizens and their families, utilizing the multi-disciplinary team approaches; Education programs, including post-graduate training and short-term courses for medical doctors and allied medical professionals in the specialized field of geriatrics and other related fields; and Program development and research to combat diseases of old age, provide consultancy advice, technical assistance and standard setting to geriatric wards, nursing homes and residential centers for senior citizens.
The NCGH be located in San Miguel, Manila and shall have a bed capacity of at least 50.
The NCGH shall be administered by a Board of Trustees with the DOH Secretary as chairperson and DSWD Secretary as vice-chairperson. Eriguel proposed that the NCGH shall be headed by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who shall be appointed by the DOH Secretary while Ocampo proposed it to be headed by an Executive Director who shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines upon the recommendation of the Board of Trustees.
The Board of Trustees shall ensure the NCGH shall adopt and enforce a program for indigents. The number of beds allocated for indigent patients shall not be less than 40 percent of the total number of hospital beds according to the bills.
The NCGH shall be exempt from all income and other internal revenue taxes, tariff and customs duties and all other kinds of taxes, fees, charges, and assessments levied by the government and its political subdivisions, agencies and instrumentalities. It may request and received assistance from the different agencies, bureaus, offices or instrumentalities of the government, including the PCSO and the PAGCOR, in pursuit of its purposes and objectives.
For the initial operation and maintenance of the NCGH, an appropriation of P250 million has been proposed. (MNS)