HOUSE Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday said the proposed law giving free annual medical checkup is another contribution of the Duterte administration to improve the lives of Filipinos.
Romualdez, chairman of the House committee on rules, hailed the third reading passage in the House of Representatives of House Bill (HB) 9072 or the Free Annual Medical Check-Up Act principally sponsored by Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor
“This very important measure of Congressman Mike Defensor will strengthen the Filipinos’ right to healthcare system. President Rodrigo Duterte has been pushing his allies in Congress to work on the approval of measures that will genuinely improve people’s access to healthcare,” said Romualdez after an overwhelming 245 lawmakers voted Tuesday in favor to pass on third and final reading the Free Annual Medical Check-Up Act.
“Improving the healthcare system is good for our economic productivity. A healthy Filipino will be a huge boost to our economy devastated by the pandemic,” said Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) where Defensor is part.
“Your (Defensior) pro-people legislation to make the lives of Filipinos comfortable has been inspiring us to work harder, smarter and more efficiently,” added Romualdez, a lawyer from the University of the Philippines (UP) and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).
Defensor said the Free Annual Medical Check-Up Act is aimed at improving 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 check-up 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.