SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go has emphasized the need for urgent action to tackle the increasing number of HIV cases in the Philippines. He has urged the Department of Health (DOH) to step up its efforts in addressing this public health issue.
“Huwag tayong maging kampante sa harap ng lumalaking krisis na ito. Mahalaga na palakasin ng DOH ang kanilang mga programa upang pigilan ang pagkalat ng HIV at magbigay ng kinakailangang suporta sa mga apektado, I urge all potentially affected individuals to take advantage of the government’s free diagnosis and medication programs. Your health is our priority,” Go emphasized.
The call from Go comes in the wake of a report by advocacy group LoveYourself Inc., which indicated that lack of awareness remains a significant factor contributing to the increasing number of HIV cases in the country.
DOH reported 1,256 new HIV cases in May 2023 alone, with 32% of these cases involving individuals aged 15-24. The total number of infections in the country has reached 116,504 since January 1984.
“In these trying times, it’s the youth who are most vulnerable. Dapat nating i-focus ang ating mga pagsisikap sa pagtuturo sa kanila, dahil sila ang kinabukasan ng ating bansa,” said Go.
Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and one of the proponents of increased funding for government’s health programs, has played an instrumental role in augmenting the budget for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. DOH’s budget for this purpose was increased from P590,594,000 in 2022 to P1,433,664,000 in 2023.
“Sa tulong ng dagdag na budget, mas malawak ang ating maabot at mas kumpletong serbisyo ang maibibigay sa mga Pilipino,” Go elaborated.
Additionally, the Senate has also increased the budget of the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) from P43,000,000 to P52,000,000 in the 2023 General Appropriations Act.
“We’re not just throwing money at the problem. We’re investing in solutions. The additional funding for PNAC will go a long way in supporting community-based initiatives and public awareness campaigns,” Go added.
The move to bolster financial support aims to fund comprehensive programs that include awareness campaigns, free testing, and medication for affected individuals.
“While the government is actively implementing measures to address the issue, I urge everyone to join hands and collaborate in contributing to a meaningful solution,” Go concluded.