THE House of Representatives on Monday expeditiously approved on second reading a proposed law filed by Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor seeking to promote preventive healthcare by giving free annual medical checkup for Filipinos.
After Defensor’s sponsorship, the House of Representatives approved House Bill (HB) 9072 or the Free Annual Medical Check-Up Act to improve Filipino’s mortality rate from diseases caused by high levels of cholesterol and blood sugar.
“This bill aims to secure that each Filipino shall be given the chance to have a free annual medical check-up to promote their right to health and health literacy,” Defensor said.
The original version of the measure provided free annual medical checkup which included diagnostic and laboratory tests for complete blood count, urinalysis, stool analysis, chest x-ray, and complete physical exam.
But it was decided during the House committee on health approval to limit the tests to blood sugar and total cholesterol level with the possibility of expanding it depending on the capability of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Under his bill, PhilHealth members are entitled to free annual medical checkup under the Philippine Health Insurance Program as mandated by Republic Act (RA) No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Law.
Defensor told his colleagues that the unchecked high blood cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease.
He said the bill enhances programs on preventive and curative medicine that advance the health and well-being of Filipinos and prevent disease, disability, and death.
“About 46% of Filipino ages 20 and over have borderline cholesterol. This means 1 out of 2 Filipinos have it and may not even be aware of it,” Defensor said, lamenting that heart disease is among the leading causes of death in the country.
Citing data from the Western Pacific Region of the International Diabetes Federation, Defensor also lamented that the country is in fifth spot with the highest number of diabetes cases.
In 2016, Defensor said the Philippine Center for Diabetes Education Foundation has recorded over 6 million Filipinos with diabetes.
“Laboratory and diagnostic tests shall be expanded, subject to the availability of PhilHealth funds,” the bill said.