Duterte’s promise to provide universal health care to all draws praise from health group

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Health Justice Philippines

HealthJustice Philippines, a public health policy think tank and advocacy group active in tobacco control and health promotion, is in high hopes after President Rodrigo Duterte promised during his first State of the Nation Address that health insurance would be extended to everyone. “The government will also provide universal health insurance to all Filipinos,” Duterte said.

“It is very encouraging to hear that our President is keen on protecting our people’s right to health. We are one with him in working towards a country where even the poorest of the poor and those who live in far-flung areas will not be deprived of medical care,” said Atty. Irene Reyes, Managing Director of HealthJustice Philippines.

The Philippines, along with 188 other countries, signed in 2000 the Millennium Declaration, the aims of which are further spelled out inMillennium Development Goals (MDGs). Three of the MDGs, namely no. 4, 5 and 6, are health-related, and respectively provide that the signatories “Reduce child mortality”, “Improve maternal health”, and “Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.”

Universal Health Care program was one of the flagship programs of the previous administration. Republic Act 10645, which granted automatic health coverage to senior citizens, was signed by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2014.

“President Duterte has made it clear that health promotion and tobacco control are his priorities. We are looking forward to hearing more of the good things he has in mind for the health of the Filipino people,” Reyes added.

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