Bong Go

DOH asked to expand healthcare coverage for dental services

May 23, 2024 People's Tonight 77 views

DURING a Senate health committee hearing chaired by Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, a critical and expansive issue was highlighted: 7 out of 10 Filipinos suffer from dental issues. This was pointed out by Sen. Raffy Tulfo during the hearing.

Despite this, dental care remains difficult to obtain especially for the poor even with the sufficient funds allocated for the Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients (MAIP) program administered by the Department of Health (DOH).

The discussions focused on addressing this gap and advocating for the inclusion of comprehensive dental services in the government’s healthcare initiatives for indigent patients.

Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients is a crucial program designed to provide financial aid to patients unable to afford necessary medical treatments. Despite its comprehensive reach, dental care, a fundamental aspect of overall health, must be more conspicuously included in its coverage, according to Go.

The senator recounted one of his visits in Cebu where an individual sought help for dental care. When referred to DOH, the patient was informed that giving dentures was not covered by government medical assistance programs under the current regulations: “Napasubo ako. Sabi ko, bigyan ko kayo ng (pustiso). Pero bawal po.”

Go emphasized that many poor Filipinos are unable to pay for dental services, and this lack of access severely affects their quality of life. He questioned why comprehensive dental care, including the provision of dentures, could not be included as part of medical services that can be covered by medical aid from government.

“Sa mga mahirap nating kababayan na ayaw na magpa-dentist, hihilain na lang (‘yung ngipin nila)… Wala po silang pambayad sa dentist,” he noted.

This, he argued, is a critical issue since wealthier individuals have the means to seek private dental care, while the poor are left without these essential services.

The senator then called for amending the regulations, suggesting that affordable dentures should be made available to those in need through medical assistance programs given the sufficient amount of budget allocated this year.

“Baka ma-consider n’yo naman po na… Medical Assistance for Indigent Patients naman po ‘yan. Indigent ‘yan, pero hindi daw pwede (para sa dentures). Hindi siya daw part ng IRR… pwede naman siguro (i-amend para mabigyan kahit) murang postiso,” he urged.

This proposal, Go argued, would provide significant relief to many impoverished Filipinos who currently suffer due to the lack of accessible dental care.

The issue was first raised by Senator Raffy Tulfo, who questioned the absence of dental specialty centers. Tulfo presented striking data to emphasize the dental health crisis in the Philippines during the Senate health committee hearing.