Health braces for rising cases of dialysis as UHC takes off

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Department of Health braces for 140 dialysis treatment sessions under the Universal Health Care program from the current 90 sessions of the procedure for kidney patients.

In an interview, Duque told the Manila Standard that the increase in the number of dialysis was based on the need of a patient—3 or 4 times a week on a dialysis program for 56 weeks.

But he hastily rejected a clamor by some sectors that the dialysis procedure be covered by PhilHealth during the lifetime of a patient.

PhilHealth vice president and chief operating officer Ruben John Basa said they are still studying the planned 140 dialysis sessions under UHC which seeks to guarantee all Filipinos equal access to quality and affordable health goods and services.

“The government cannot afford that because the UHC program covers other procedures and medical treatment,” he said. He related that PhilHealth used to offer 45 dialysis for indigent members until it was doubled in 2016.

The coverage for dialysis, he said, would depend on actuarial expenses. He said the health tech would also first determine the cost effectiveness—how much would PhilHealth pay.

As of 2015, the number of dialysis patients was recorded at 32,077, 5,139 of which are in Metro Manila.

The World Health Organization said kidney failure is among the top ten leading causes of death in the country.

Meanwhile, Senator JV Ejercito raised concern over the zero allocation for Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) under the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Ejercito said they believe that this will affect the looming implementation of the UHC.

The UHC , he said, will ensure that every Filipino is automatically covered by the Philhealth, health workers will be reinforced, and most importantly health facilities will be accessible.

He said this will result to an improved health seeking behavior of Filipinos and will surely bring overcapacity in hospitals if we are caught unprepared.

 “Stripping HFEP of its allocation under the 2019 GAA will not solve anything. Instead it will further cause overcrowding in hospitals and worsen the condition of health facilities,” he said.

The spending of the national government for 2019, he said, should reflect its priorities in the implementation of its key policies, such as the UHC.

 “I would like to remind the DBM that overcrowding in hospitals should be addressed now before we could fully realize its benefits,” he said.

“We shall move towards this direction through the restoration of HFEP Fund under the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA),” added Ejercito.

Topics: Francisco Duque III , Department of Health , Universal Health Care , Ruben John Basa , PhilHEalth
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