Sen. Robinhood “Robin” C. Padilla has filed bills that would set up Regional Heart Centers (RHCs) and Regional Kidney and Transplant Institutes (RKTIs) nationwide.
Padilla said he filed Senate Bill 1361 which aims to set up RHCs to ensure Filipinos in remote areas get adequate treatment for heart diseases and Senate Bill 1362 which seeks to set up RKTIs.
Padilla said patients from outside Metro Manila have a hard time getting quality cardiac care because the only specialty hospital, the Philippine Heart Center, is in the metro.
“Filipinos living near the metropolis have a greater advantage in accessing specialized care from the Philippine Heart Center. Meanwhile, patients coming from rural provinces are to some extent deprived of the same quality of cardiac care that the specialty hospital provides. They also have to spend a fortune to travel to Manila for the treatment of complex cardiovascular cases,” Padilla said.
“It is in this regard that this bill aims to create one Regional Heart Center in each of the administrative regions in the country to ensure that equal access and privilege to avail of specialized and quality cardiac care is extended to a larger population of Filipinos,” he added.
Padilla noted that heart disease is a leading cause of death in the Philippines. In 2020, at least 150,000 Filipinos have died from heart disease, he said.
Under the bill, an RHC shall be set up in each region, with sufficient cardiac care equipment and medical supplies, and with professional heart specialists. The RHCs shall ensure treatment that is affordable to indigents.
The functions of the RHCs include research on preventing cardiovascular diseases; promoting public awareness; and training physicians, nurses, medtechs, health officers, and social workers.
“The creation of these Regional Heart Centers will not only unburden the Philippine Heart Center located in the National Capital Region but will also improve the access of patients from provinces to avail of immediate and affordable cardiac care. This is to achieve our ultimate goal of lowering the deaths associated with heart diseases in the long run,” Padilla said.
On filing Senate Bill 1362, Padilla said Department of Health figures show one Filipino dies every hour from kidney failure, with more than 7,000 cases of kidney failure recorded in the country every year.
There is also an increasing trend in the incidence of kidney diseases as shown by the benefit claims from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) for dialysis sessions, reaching P14 billion in 2021 compared to P6.3 billion in 2015.
He said patients in the provinces need to spend more time and money to seek treatment because the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), the only specialty institute, is in Metro Manila.
“The creation of RKTI will also unburden the patients from the provinces of the additional costs associated with long-distance travel. The same resources can be used for their other basic needs to sustain life. It is envisioned that by bringing specialized kidney care services closer to patients, more lives will eventually be saved,” Padilla said.