SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Members of the House committee on health inquired into the capability of the Department of Health (DOH) under Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial to address vital health issues such as animal bites, public oral health, and management of drug rehabilitation centers.
The committee chaired by Rep. Angelina Tan, M.D. (4th District, Quezon) inquired into the DOH capability during the recent presentation of the mandates, programs, plans and accomplishments of the DOH and its attached agencies.
Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Party-list, Bagong Henerasyon) asked the DOH if there are animal bite centers in all cities, provinces and in far-flung areas to ensure treatment is readily available and accessible to animal bite victims.
Dy also asked if an animal bite victim, as per the previous policy, still needs to look for a partner to share in the cost of human vaccine for animal bites.
Ubial said there are more than 600 animal bite centers in the country but most of them are in urban centers and capital towns of provinces.
Ubial said the DOH provides free human vaccines in several animal bite centers in the country. She explained that animal bite is a rare incident, and that the use of vaccine should be optimized.
She explained that the previous policy wherein an animal bite victim had to look for somebody else to share in the cost of human vaccine for animal bites was implemented when the DOH was unable to procure the vaccines for all animal bites in the country.
“There is no need at this point for animal bite victims to save or minimize on the vaccination cost. In the DOH budgets for 2016 and 2017, the fund for post exposure prophylaxis for human rabies is covering 100 percent of the requirements for all animal bites victims in the country,” said Ubial.
On whether the required number of vaccines that an animal bite victim may need is covered by the Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth), Ubial said the DOH provides the vaccines in all animal bites centers in the country but such vaccines are not covered by PhilHealth.
“If you have more than one patient, you can administer the vaccine through intradermal, otherwise, the vaccine can be administered through intramuscular,” said Ubial.
As to Dy’s query if the DOH has a program on oral health especially for children and if such program is covered by the Philhealth, Ubial said a program on oral health care is already provided in the budget of the DOH beginning 2016.
“The DOH is providing for a total of 265 dentists who will accompany the dental vans we have procured in 2016. They will be providing prophylaxis and also treatment, fissure sealants to school children and eventually for the entire population if the supplies last,” said Ubial.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mario Vittorio “Marvey” A. Marino (5th District, Batangas) asked the DOH if they have a model for managing rehabilitation centers for drug users.
“The local government of Batangas will build a rehabilitation center but the problem is they do not have the expertise to manage one,” he said.
Likewise, Marino asked if some funds can be accessed from the DOH in order to make the facility run and take care of drug surrenderees.
Ubial said the DOH has a standard operating manual for drug treatment and rehabilitation that is available at DOH regional offices. Moreover, Ubial said, they have available funds for training and capacity building of local government health workers and personnel for the management and operations of treatment and rehabilitation centers.
“However, we don’t have the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlay. We’ve asked the local governments to submit their proposals, as we are requesting that these proposals be funded through the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) funds,” she said.
Ubial also explained the local governments have to provide funds on their own to run the rehabilitation centers as the idea is for the local governments and even the DOH treatment and rehabilitation centers to have counterpart funding.
As to the assessment of surrenderees who will be admitted as patients in the rehab facilities, Ubial said they will be assessed on their capacity to pay.
“So there are some who are providing payment and there are those who are free of charge because of their indigent status,” Ubial said.