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Angara pushes for Greater Access to Healthcare for Terminally Ill Patients

Date: 12 September 2017; Type: Legal News; Source: Senate of The Philippines

Senator Sonny Angara is pushing for the passage of a bill that seeks to make health services available to all Filipinos at affordable cost even to patients suffering from life threatening illnesses.

Angara's Senate Bill 1555 integrates hospice and palliative care into the Philippine healthcare system. Palliative and hospice care aims to improve the quality of life of patients with life-limiting, complex and chronic illnesses or those experiencing progressively debilitating diseases beyond any benefit from curative treatment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the following diseases require palliative care at the end-stage of life: cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases, diabetes, tuberculosis, kidney failure, HIV-AIDS, Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, among others.

Data from WHO showed that in 2012, about 300,000 of the estimated 515,000 reported deaths in the Philippines were due to noncommunicable diseases such as stroke, heart attack, cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes.

"Many Filipinos today are afflicted with cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and other life-threatening and debilitating conditions--imposing costs that are not only financial, but also emotional, social, and psychological, even to their families," the senator said.

"While our healthcare system should work on curing and preventing sickness, it should also promote people's well-being, especially when they are enduring intense pain and suffering from chronic diseases," he added.

To address this, Angara's bill mandates all government and private hospitals to provide standard quality palliative and hospice care services to patients with life-threatening illnesses. Rural health units are required to develop home-based or near home palliative care program.

The bill further mandates the Philhealth to expand its benefit package to include inpatient palliative services, outpatient hospice care and home-based palliative care.

Immediate family members or relatives who are employed and are assigned by the family to provide palliative and hospice care to a critically ill relative shall also be allowed to use all existing leave benefits granted by their employers.

"Our measure seeks to guarantee the right of every Filipino to quality health care where their full well-being is promoted throughout their entire life cycle," Angara said.

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