SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives took another step forward in ensuring free basic medicines to our less fortunate citizens with the filing of House Bill 5808, otherwise known as the “Free Basic Medicine Assistance Act”. HB 5808, under Committee Report 291, establishes a Free Basic Medicine Assistance Program in all government district hospitals, local health units, and barangay health centers in all cities and municipalities nationwide. The program will provide for free medicines to indigent members of the society.
Among the objectives of this bill is to promote optimal health and well-being of every Filipino by improved access to medicines. In addition, it seeks to address the health needs of marginalized sectors such as the poor, malnourished, elderly, women, children and persons with disabilities.
Rep. Victor Yap (Second District, Tarlac), one of the primary authors of the bill, hopes that this measure will counter the inaccessibility of medicines to our underprivileged and impoverished populace.
“Social justice demands that those with less in life should more under the law. Hence, government must have a continuing and sincere concern for the underprivileged and undertake a sustained and substantial effort to improve their quality of life,” Rep. Yap explained.
Medicines are more expensive in the Philippines compared to the prices it its neighbor countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Since 1985, the price of drugs increased faster than the consumer price index. Despite the law on generic medicines and parallel importation initiatives, the Philippines continues to suffer from access to low cost, safe, and quality essential medicines. Rep. Yap emphasized the need to immediately resolve this problem with the passage of the Free Medicines bill.
“The greatest wealth of the nation is its people. Thus, the government must ensure that regardless of financial status, no one will be deprived of the right to medical attention - including medicines. Providing free medicines to the poor is a vital step in improving health care in the Philippines,” Rep. Yap added.