Rep Rene Relampagos urged his colleagues to pass the bill seeking to establish a free basic medicines program in all barangay health centers of the country, stressing that no one shall be deprived of his/her right to medical attention especially the marginalized.
â€œThe public should be accorded the right to adequate healthcare as provided for by the Constitution. The bill is crafted to ensure that the sick, especially those with financial difficulties, shall be given access to free medicines, with the goal of improving the overall health and wellbeing of all Filipinos. This is also consistent with our international obligation on the human right to health.â€ Relampagos, former Chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights, stressed.
Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) states that, â€œThe States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include those necessary for: The reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child; The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene; The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases; and The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.â€ The Philippines ratified the ICESCR on 07 June 1974.
Under House Bill 2306, the Free Basic Medicines Program shall be administered by the Department of Health (DOH) through barangay health centers in all municipalities, in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Further, the program shall be restricted to qualified recipients to be identified by the DSWD. The implementing rules and regulations shall guarantee that the intended beneficiaries are indigent residents of barangay with an annual income of not more than P100,000.00.
â€œIf we want to address the problem of inequity and poverty, we need to adopt an area-based program that will meet the basic needs of the marginalized sector such as easy access to quality healthcare and medicines,â€ Relampagos said.
He added, â€œThose who cannot afford medical treatment can benefit a lot from this program. The medicines will be made available in barangay health centers nationwide. One billion pesos will also be allocated for the initial implementation of the program.â€