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Category Archives: health care industry

August 19 2013 – Quezon City Day holiday

The Philippines will be the marking this August 19 the 135th birth anniversary of Manuel L. Quezon, the country’s second president. The day, which falls on a Monday, is a special non-working holiday in Quezon City, as well as in Aurora and Quezon provinces.

This is in accordance to Republic Act (RA) 6741, which was signed by then-President Corazon Aquino back in 1988. August 19 is a special working holiday elsewhere in the country. Read the full text of RA 6741 here.

Provincial seal of Quezon, Philippines.

Provincial seal of Quezon, Philippines. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quezon City and Quezon province were both named after the man who led the country from 1935 to 1944, while Aurora province in Region III was named after his wife. Quezon died of tuberculosis in the United States in 1944 while his wife was killed in an ambush in 1949.

Residents or the aforementioned areas will have two more holidays for the month – Ninoy Aquino Day on August 21 and National Heroes’ Day on August 26.

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Wally and Jose – World Thyroid Day Philippines 2013

Wally Bayola and Jose Manalo, two of the country’s well-loved television comedians, will headline a fundraising show for indigent thyroid disease patients on July 6, Saturday. The show, titled “Juan Night with Jose and Wally,” is spearheaded by the Philippine Society of Nuclear Medicine (PSNM).

The event will be held in Crossroad 77 Convenarium in Mother Ignacia, Quezon City. The PSNM officially began promoting the event last May 25, known internationally as the World Thyroid Day. Also performing with Wally and Jose that night are celebrity impersonator Anton Diva and sexy comedienne Ethel Booba.

wally and jose - world thyroid day

The comedic duo of Wally and Jose will do a show for the benefit of thyroid disease patients this July 6 (Credits: PSNM Facebook page)

Speaking to The Filipino Scribe, Dr. Lourdes Taylan, a nuclear medicine specialist and PSNM president, explained that the activity aims to raise funds specifically for patients that are in need of radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy. “We want to help more, but as a non-profit entity, the PSNM can only do so much,” Taylan said. One session of RAI therapy can cost as much as P15, 000, she added.

She added that the PSNM also needs help in conducting awareness campaigns on thyroid diseases throughout the country. “This is relevant for Filipinos because we have high incidence of goiter here. Thyroid diseases are endemic in the Philippines,” she explained.

A Philippine Thyroid Disorder Prevalence Survey conducted in 2008revealed that of the nearly 5000 Filipinos who underwent thyroid function tests, 417 or 8.53% had thyroid function abnormalities. “Thyroid problems can affect both men and women, even new-born children,” Taylan said.

She appealed to the public to support the upcoming benefit show. “I hope people patronize this event for our patient-beneficiaries. It will also help us in our effort to raise awareness about thyroid diseases in far-flung provinces nationwide,” she said.

Interested parties may call or text Michael Go of iConceptualizeYourEvents, Inc. at 0917.9159406 or 0922.8437628 to buy tickets. Visit the Facebook page of PSNM for more details.

Must read:Thyroid disorders with no symptoms are common to Filipino adults, according to survey” by Richmond Q. Acosta

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‘Magic sugar’ now legal in the Philippines

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reversed its 13-year ban against the use of ‘magic sugar.’ In a statement released April 15, FDA acting director Kenneth Hartigan-Go pointed out that over a hundred countries including Australia, Canada, and European nations have found “no safety concerns” among ‘magic sugar’ consumers.

Hartigan-Go however ordered all importers, traders, and distributors to apply for market authorization from their agency to “ensure proper label and safe use of the product.” At the same time, he mandated FDA food inspectors to strictly monitor whether the ‘magic sugars’ sold around the country are authorized by their agency.

In the advisory, he noted that ‘magic sugar’ is already listed as a permitted food additive in the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Codex Alimentarius (Latin for “Book of Food”). Food processors that intend to use  ‘magic sugar’ must abide by the requirements listed in the Codex’ General Standard for Food Additives (access it through this webpage) as regards the acceptable levels of its consumption, the acting FDA chief also stressed.

magic sugar philippines

The use of ‘magic sugar’ is now legal in the Philippines (credits: Philippine Food and Drug Administration Facebook page)

The then-Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) issued an advisory back in August 2000 prohibiting the sale and use of ‘magic sugar.’ In his advisory, then-BFAD director William Torres warned that violators may face imprisonment of up to five years as stipulated in Republic Act 3720 or the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1963. As recently as last month, the Department of Health reminded the public against peddlers of juice drinks who may be using ‘magic sugar.’

Known through its chemical names sodium cyclamate and cyclamic acid, ‘magic sugar’ is an artificial sweetener first discovered in 1937 by Michael Sveda, a researcher from University of Illinois. In 1969, a series of experiments suggested that the substance causes bladder cancer among laboratory rats. Similar studies done in the years after did not back this conclusion, however.


RA 10354 – Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012

[ REPUBLIC ACT NO. 10354 ]

AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A NATIONAL POLICY ON RESPONSIBLE PARENTHOOD AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

SECTION 1. Title. – This Act shall be known as “The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012″.

SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. – The State recognizes and guarantees the human rights of all persons including their right to equality and nondiscrimination of these rights, the right to sustainable human development, the right to health which includes reproductive health, the right to education and information, and the right to choose and make decisions for themselves in accordance with their religious convictions, ethics, cultural beliefs, and the demands of responsible parenthood.

Pursuant to the declaration of State policies under Section 12, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, it is the duty of the State to protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution and equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of women especially mothers in particular and of the people in general and instill health consciousness among them. The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society. The State shall likewise protect and advance the right of families in particular and the people in general to a balanced and healthful environment in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature. The State also recognizes and guarantees the promotion and equal protection of the welfare and rights of children, the youth, and the unborn.

Moreover, the State recognizes and guarantees the promotion of gender equality, gender equity, women empowerment and dignity as a health and human rights concern and as a social responsibility. The advancement and protection of women’s human rights shall be central to the efforts of the State to address reproductive health care.

The State recognizes marriage as an inviolable social institution and the foundation of the family which in turn is the foundation of the nation. Pursuant thereto, the State shall defend:

(a) The right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood;

(b) The right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development;

(c) The right of the family to a family living wage and income; and

(d) The right of families or family associations to participate in the planning and implementation of policies and programs

The State likewise guarantees universal access to medically-safe, non-abortifacient, effective, legal, affordable, and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies which do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum as determined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and relevant information and education thereon according to the priority needs of women, children and other underprivileged sectors, giving preferential access to those identified through the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) and other government measures of identifying marginalization, who shall be voluntary beneficiaries of reproductive health care, services and supplies for free. ■ •

The State shall eradicate discriminatory practices, laws and policies that infringe on a person’s exercise of reproductive health rights.

The State shall also promote openness to life; Provided, That parents bring forth to the world only those children whom they can raise in a truly humane way.

SEC. 3. Guiding Principles for Implementation. – This Act declares the following as guiding principles:

(a) The right to make free and informed decisions, which is central to the exercise of any right, shall not be subjected to any form of coercion and must be fully guaranteed by the State, like the right itself;

(b) Respect for protection and fulfillment of reproductive health and rights which seek to promote the rights and welfare of every person particularly couples, adult individuals, women and adolescents;

(c) Since human resource is among the principal assets of the country, effective and quality reproductive health care services must be given primacy to ensure maternal and child health, the health of the unborn, safe delivery and birth of healthy children, and sound replacement rate, in line with the State’s duty to promote the right to health, responsible parenthood, social justice and full human development;

(d) The provision of ethical and medically safe, legal, accessible, affordable, non-abortifacient, effective and quality reproductive health care services and supplies is essential in the promotion of people’s right to health, especially those of women, the poor, and the marginalized, and shall be incorporated as a component of basic health care;

(e) The State shall promote and provide information and access, without bias, to all methods of family planning, including effective natural and modern methods which have been proven medically safe, legal, non-abortifacient, and effective in accordance with scientific and evidence-based medical research standards such as those registered and approved by the FDA for the poor and marginalized as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization: Provided, That the State shall also provide funding support to promote modern natural methods of family planning, especially the Billings Ovulation Method, consistent with the needs of acceptors and their religious convictions;

(f) The State shall promote programs that: (1) enable individuals and couples to have the number of children they desire with due consideration to the health, particularly of women, and the resources available and affordable to them and in accordance with existing laws, public morals and their religious convictions: Provided, That no one shall be deprived, for economic reasons, of the rights to have children; (2) achieve equitable allocation and utilization of resources; (3) ensure effective partnership among national government, local government units (LGUs) and the private sector in the design, implementation, coordination, integration, monitoring and evaluation of people-centered programs to enhance the quality of life and environmental protection; (4) conduct studies to analyze demographic trends including demographic dividends from sound population policies towards sustainable human development in keeping with the principles of gender equality, protection of mothers and children, born and unborn and the promotion and protection of women’s reproductive rights and health; and (5) conduct scientific studies to determine the safety and efficacy of alternative medicines and methods for reproductive health care development;

(g) The provision of reproductive health care, information and supplies giving priority to poor beneficiaries as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization must be the primary responsibility of the national government consistent with its obligation to respect, protect and promote the right to health and the right to life;

(h) The State shall respect individuals’ preferences and choice of family planning methods that are in accordance with their religious convictions and cultural beliefs, taking into consideration the State’s obligations under various human rights instruments;

(i) Active participation by nongovernment organizations (NGOs), women’s and people’s organizations, civil society, faith-based organizations, the religious sector and communities is crucial to ensure that reproductive health and population and development policies, plans, and programs will address the priority needs of women, the poor, and the marginalized;

(j) While this Act recognizes that abortion is illegal and punishable by law, the government shall ensure that all women needing care for post-abortive complications and all other complications arising from pregnancy, labor and delivery and related issues shall be treated and counseled in a humane, nonjudgmental and compassionate manner in accordance with law and medical ethics;

(k) Each family shall have the right to determine its ideal family size: Provided, however, That the State shall equip each parent with the necessary information on all aspects of family life, including reproductive health and responsible parenthood, in order to make that determination;

(l) There shall be no demographic or population targets and the mitigation, promotion and/or stabilization of the population growth rate is incidental to the advancement of reproductive health;

(m) Gender equality and women empowerment are central elements of reproductive health and population and development;

(n) The resources of the country must be made to serve the entire population, especially the poor, and allocations thereof must be adequate and effective: Provided, That the life of the unborn is protected;

(o) Development is a multi-faceted process that calls for the harmonization and integration of policies, plans, programs and projects that seek to uplift the quality of life of the people, more particularly the poor, the needy and the marginalized; and

(p) That a comprehensive reproductive health program addresses the needs of people throughout their life cycle.

SEC. 4. Definition of Terms. – For the purpose of this Act, the following terms shall be defined as follows:

(a) Abortifacient refers to any drug or device that induces abortion or the destruction of a fetus inside the mother’s womb or the prevention of the fertilized ovum to reach and be implanted in the mother’s womb upon determination of the FDA.

(b) Adolescent refers to young people between the ages of ten (10) to nineteen (19) years who are in transition from childhood to adulthood.

(c) Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (BEMONC) refers to lifesaving services for emergency maternal and newborn conditions/complications being provided by a health facility or professional to include the following services: administration of parenteral oxytocic drugs, administration of dose of parenteral anticonvulsants, administration of parenteral antibiotics, administration of maternal steroids for preterm labor, performance of assisted vaginal deliveries, removal of retained placental products, and manual removal of retained placenta. It also includes neonatal interventions which include at the minimum: newborn resuscitation, provision of warmth, and referral, blood transfusion where possible.

(d) Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (CEMONC) refers to lifesaving services for emergency maternal and newborn conditions/complications as in Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care plus the provision of surgical delivery (caesarian section) and blood bank services, and other highly specialized obstetric interventions. It also includes emergency neonatal care which includes at the minimum: newborn resuscitation, treatment of neonatal sepsis infection, oxygen support, and antenatal administration of (maternal) steroids for threatened premature delivery.

(e) Family planning refers to a program which enables couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and to have access to a full range of safe, affordable, effective, non-abortifacient modem natural and artificial methods of planning pregnancy.

(f) Fetal and infant death review refers to a qualitative and in-depth study of the causes of fetal and infant death with the primary purpose of preventing future deaths through changes or additions to programs, plans and policies.

(g) Gender equality refers to the principle of equality between women and men and equal rights to enjoy conditions in realizing their full human potentials to contribute to, and benefit from, the results of development, with the State recognizing that all human beings are free and equal in dignity and rights. It entails equality in opportunities, in the allocation of resources or benefits, or in access to services in furtherance of the rights to health and sustainable human development among others, without discrimination.

(h) Gender equity refers to the policies, instruments, programs and actions that address the disadvantaged position of women in society by providing preferential treatment and affirmative action. It entails fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities between women and men, and often requires women-specific projects and programs to end existing inequalities. This concept recognizes that while reproductive health involves women and men, it is more critical for women’s health.

(i) Male responsibility refers to the involvement, commitment, accountability and responsibility of males in all areas of sexual health and reproductive health, as well as the care of reproductive health concerns specific to men.

(j) Maternal death review refers to a qualitative and in-depth study of the causes of maternal death with the primary purpose of preventing future deaths through changes or additions to programs, plans and policies.

(k) Maternal health refers to the health of a woman of reproductive age including, but not limited to, during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.

(l) Modern methods of family planning refers to safe, effective, non-abortifacient and legal methods, whether natural or artificial, that are registered with the FDA, to plan pregnancy.

(m) Natural family planning refers to a variety of methods used to plan or prevent pregnancy based on identifying the woman’s fertile days.

(n) Public health care service provider refers to: (1) public health care institution, which is duly licensed and accredited and devoted primarily to the maintenance and operation of facilities for health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care of individuals suffering from illness, disease, injury, disability or deformity, or in need of obstetrical or other medical and nursing care; (2) public health care professional, who is a doctor of medicine, a nurse or a midwife; (3) public health worker engaged in the delivery of health care services; or (4) barangay health worker who has undergone training programs under any accredited government and NGO and who voluntarily renders primarily health care services in the community after having been accredited to function as such by the local health board in accordance with the guideline’s promulgated by the Department of Health (DOH).

(o) Poor refers to members of households identified as poor through the NHTS-PR by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or any subsequent system used by the national government in identifying the poor.

(p) Reproductive Health (RH) refers to the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. This implies that people are able to have a responsible, safe, consensual and satisfying sex life, that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so. This further implies that women and men attain equal relationships in matters related to sexual relations and reproduction.

(q) Reproductive health care refers to the access to a full range of methods, facilities, services and supplies that contribute to reproductive health and well-being by addressing reproductive health-related problems. It also includes sexual health, the purpose of which is the enhancement of life and personal relations. The elements of reproductive health care include the following:

(1) Family planning information and services which shall include as a first priority making women of reproductive age fully aware of their respective cycles to make them aware of when fertilization is highly probable, as well as highly improbable;

(2) Maternal, infant and child health and nutrition, including breastfeeding;

(3) Proscription of abortion and management of abortion complications;

(4) Adolescent and youth reproductive health guidance and counseling;

(5) Prevention, treatment and management of reproductive tract infections (RTIs), HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmittable infections (STIs);

(6) Elimination of violence against women and children and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence;

(7) Education and counseling on sexuality and reproductive health;

(8) Treatment of breast and reproductive tract cancers and other gynecological conditions and disorders;

(9) Male responsibility and involvement and men’s reproductive health;

(10) Prevention, treatment and management of infertility and sexual dysfunction;

(11) Reproductive health education for the adolescents; and

(12) Mental health aspect of reproductive health care.

(r) Reproductive health care program refers to the systematic and integrated provision of reproductive health care to all citizens prioritizing women, the poor, marginalized and those invulnerable or crisis situations.

(s) Reproductive health rights refers to the rights of individuals and couples, to decide freely and responsibly whether or not to have children; the number, spacing and timing of their children; to make other decisions concerning reproduction, free of discrimination, coercion and violence; to have the information and means to do so; and to attain the highest standard of sexual health and reproductive health: Provided, however, That reproductive health rights do not include abortion, and access to abortifacients.

(t) Reproductive health and sexuality education refers to a lifelong learning process of providing and acquiring complete, accurate and relevant age- and development-appropriate information and education on reproductive health and sexuality through life skills education and other approaches.

(u) Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) refers to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and other types of infections affecting the reproductive system.

(v) Responsible parenthood refers to the will and ability of a parent to respond to the needs and aspirations of the family and children. It is likewise a shared responsibility between parents to determine and achieve the desired number of children, spacing and timing of their children according to their own family life aspirations, taking into account psychological preparedness, health status, sociocultural and economic concerns consistent with their religious convictions.

(w) Sexual health refers to a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free from coercion, discrimination and violence.

(x) Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) refers to any infection that may be acquired or passed on through sexual contact, use of IV, intravenous drug needles, childbirth and breastfeeding.

(y) Skilled birth attendance refers to childbirth managed by a skilled health professional including the enabling conditions of necessary equipment and support of a functioning health system, including transport and referral faculties for emergency obstetric care.

(z) Skilled health professional refers to a midwife, doctor or nurse, who has been educated and trained in the skills needed to manage normal and complicated pregnancies, childbirth and the immediate postnatal period, and in the identification, management and referral of complications in women and newborns.

(aa) Sustainable human development refers to bringing people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, to the center of development process, the central purpose of which is the creation of an enabling environment in which all can enjoy long, healthy and productive lives, done in the manner that promotes their rights and protects the life opportunities of future generations and the natural ecosystem on which all life depends.

SEC. 5. Hiring of Skilled Health Professionals for Maternal Health Care and Skilled Birth Attendance. – The LGUs shall endeavor to hire an adequate number of nurses, midwives and other skilled health professionals for maternal health care and skilled birth attendance to achieve an ideal skilled health professional-to-patient ratio taking into consideration DOH targets: Provided, That people in geographically isolated or highly populated and depressed areas shall be provided the same level of access to health care: Provided, further, That the national government shall provide additional and necessary funding and other necessary assistance for the effective implementation of this provision.

For the purposes of this Act, midwives and nurses shall be allowed to administer lifesaving drugs such as, but not limited to, oxytocin and magnesium sulfate, in accordance with the guidelines set by the DOH, under emergency conditions and when there are no physicians available: Provided, That they are properly trained and certified to administer these lifesaving drugs.

SEC. 6. Health Care Facilities. – Each LGU, upon its determination of the necessity based on well-supported data provided by its local health office shall endeavor to establish or upgrade hospitals and facilities with adequate and qualified personnel, equipment and supplies to be able to provide emergency obstetric and newborn care:Provided, That people in geographically isolated or highly populated and depressed areas shall have the same level of access and shall not be neglected by providing other means such as home visits or mobile health care clinics as needed: Provided, further, That the national government shall provide additional and necessary funding and other necessary assistance for the effective implementation of this provision.

SEC. 7. Access to Family Planning. – All accredited public health facilities shall provide a full range of modern family planning methods, which shall also include medical consultations, supplies and necessary and reasonable procedures for poor and marginalized couples having infertility issues who desire to have children: Provided, That family planning services shall likewise be extended by private health facilities to paying patients with the option to grant free care and services to indigents, except in the case of non-maternity specialty hospitals and hospitals owned and operated by a religious group, but they have the option to provide such full range of modern family planning methods: Provided, further, That these hospitals shall immediately refer the person seeking such care and services to another health facility which is conveniently accessible: Provided, finally, That the person is not in an emergency condition or serious case as defined in Republic Act No. 8344.

No person shall be denied information and access to family planning services, whether natural or artificial: Provided, That minors will not be allowed access to modern methods of family planning without written consent from their parents or guardian/s except when the minor is already a parent or has had a miscarriage.

SEC. 8. Maternal Death Review and Fetal and Infant Death Review. – All LGUs, national and local government hospitals, and other public health units shall conduct an annual Maternal Death Review and Fetal and Infant Death Review in accordance with the guidelines set by the DOH. Such review should result in an evidence-based programming and budgeting process that would contribute to the development of more responsive reproductive health services to promote women’s health and safe motherhood.

SEC. 9. The Philippine National Drug Formulary System and Family Planning Supplies. – The National Drug Formulary shall include hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine devices, injectables and other safe, legal, non-abortifacient and effective family planning products and supplies. The Philippine National Drug Formulary System (PNDFS) shall be observed in selecting drugs including family planning supplies that will be included or removed from the Essential Drugs List (EDL) in accordance with existing practice and in consultation with reputable medical associations in the Philippines. For the purpose of this Act, any product or supply included or to be included in the EDL must have a certification from the FDA that said product and supply is made available on the condition that it is not to be used as an abortifacient.

These products and supplies shall also be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all national hospitals: Provided, further, That the foregoing offices shall not purchase or acquire by any means emergency contraceptive pills, postcoital pills, abortifacients that will be used for such purpose and their other forms or equivalent.

SEC. 10. Procurement and Distribution of Family Planning Supplies. – The DOH shall procure, distribute to LGUs and monitor the usage of family planning supplies for the whole country. The DOH shall coordinate with all appropriate local government bodies to plan and implement this procurement and distribution program. The supply and budget allotments shall be based on, among others, the current levels and projections of the following:

(a) Number of women of reproductive age and couples who want to space or limit their children;

(b) Contraceptive prevalence rate, by type of method used; and

(c) Cost of family planning supplies.

Provided, That LGUs may implement its own procurement, distribution and monitoring program consistent with the overall provisions of this Act and the guidelines of the DOH.

SEC. 11. Integration of Responsible Parenthood and Family Planning Component in Anti-Poverty Programs. – A multidimensional approach shall be adopted in the implementation of policies and programs to fight poverty. Towards this end, the DOH shall implement programs prioritizing full access of poor and marginalized women as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization to reproductive health care, services, products and programs. The DOH shall provide such programs, technical support, including capacity building and monitoring.

SEC. 12. PhilHealth Benefits for Serious .and Life-Threatening Reproductive Health Conditions. – All serious and life-threatening reproductive health conditions such as HIV and AIDS, breast and reproductive tract cancers, and obstetric complications, and menopausal and post-menopausal-related conditions shall be given the maximum benefits, including the provision of Anti-Retroviral Medicines (ARVs), as provided in the guidelines set by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC).

SEC. 13. Mobile Health Care Service. – The national or the local government may provide each provincial, city, municipal and district hospital with a Mobile Health Care Service (MHCS) in the form of a van or other means of transportation appropriate to its terrain, taking into consideration the health care needs of each LGU. The MHCS shall deliver health care goods and services to its constituents, more particularly to the poor and needy, as well as disseminate knowledge and information on reproductive health. The MHCS shall be operated by skilled health providers and adequately equipped with a wide range of health care materials and information dissemination devices and equipment, the latter including, but not limited to, a television set for audio-visual presentations. All MHCS shall be operated by LGUs of provinces and highly urbanized cities.

SEC. 14. Age- and Development-Appropriate Reproductive Health Education. – The State shall provide age- and development-appropriate reproductive health education to adolescents which shall be taught by adequately trained teachers informal and nonformal educational system and integrated in relevant subjects such as, but not limited to, values formation; knowledge and skills in self-protection against discrimination; sexual abuse and violence against women and children and other forms of gender based violence and teen pregnancy; physical, social and emotional changes in adolescents; women’s rights and children’s rights; responsible teenage behavior; gender and development; and responsible parenthood: Provided, That flexibility in the formulation and adoption of appropriate course content, scope and methodology in each educational level or group shall be allowed only after consultations with parents-teachers-community associations, school officials and other interest groups. The Department of Education (DepED) shall formulate a curriculum which shall be used by public schools and may be adopted by private schools.

SEC. 15. Certificate of Compliance. – No marriage license shall be issued by the Local Civil Registrar unless the applicants present a Certificate of Compliance issued for free by the local Family Planning Office certifying that they had duly received adequate instructions and information on responsible parenthood, family planning, breastfeeding and infant nutrition.

SEC. 16. Capacity Building of Barangay Health Workers (BHWs). – The DOH shall be responsible for disseminating information and providing training programs to the LGUs. The LGUs, with the technical assistance of the DOH, shall be responsible for the training of BHWs and other barangay volunteers on the promotion of reproductive health. The DOH shall provide the LGUs with medical supplies and equipment needed by BHWs to carry out their functions effectively: Provided, further, That the national government shall provide additional and necessary funding and other necessary assistance for the effective implementation of this provision including the possible provision of additional honoraria for BHWs.

SEC. 17. Pro Bono Services for Indigent Women. – Private and nongovernment reproductive healthcare service providers including, but not limited to, gynecologists and obstetricians, are encouraged to provide at least forty-eight (48) hours annually of reproductive health services, ranging from providing information and education to rendering medical services, free of charge to indigent and low-income patients as identified through the NHTS-PR and other government measures of identifying marginalization, especially to pregnant adolescents. The forty-eight (48) hours annual pro bono services shall be included as a prerequisite in the accreditation under the PhilHealth.

SEC. 18. Sexual and Reproductive Health Programs for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs). – The cities and municipalities shall endeavor that barriers to reproductive health services for PWDs are obliterated by the following:

(a) Providing physical access, and resolving transportation and proximity issues to clinics, hospitals and places where public health education is provided, contraceptives are sold or distributed or other places where reproductive health services are provided;

(b) Adapting examination tables and other laboratory procedures to the needs and conditions of PWDs;

(c) Increasing access to information and communication materials on sexual and reproductive health in braille, large print, simple language, sign language and pictures;

(d) Providing continuing education and inclusion of rights of PWDs among health care providers; and

(e) Undertaking activities to raise awareness and address misconceptions among the general public on the stigma and their lack of knowledge on the sexual and reproductive health needs and rights of PWDs.

SEC. 19. Duties and Responsibilities. – (a) Pursuant to the herein declared policy, the DOH shall serve as the lead agency for the implementation of this Act and shall integrate in their regular operations the following functions:

(1) Fully and efficiently implement the reproductive health care program;

(2) Ensure people’s access to medically safe, non-abortifacient, legal, quality and affordable reproductive health goods and services; and

(3) Perform such other functions necessary to attain the purposes of this Act.

(b) The DOH, in coordination with the PHIC, as may be applicable, shall:

(1) Strengthen the capacities of health regulatory agencies to ensure safe, high quality, accessible and affordable reproductive health services and commodities with the concurrent strengthening and enforcement of regulatory mandates and mechanisms;

(2) Facilitate the involvement and participation of NGOs and the private sector in reproductive health care service delivery and in the production, distribution and delivery of quality reproductive health and family planning supplies and commodities to make them accessible and affordable to ordinary citizens;

(3) Engage the services, skills and proficiencies of experts in natural family planning who shall provide the necessary training for all BHWs;

(4) Supervise and provide assistance to LGUs in the delivery of reproductive health care services and in the purchase of family planning goods and supplies; and

(5) Furnish LGUs, through their respective local health offices, appropriate information and resources to keep the latter updated on current studies and researches relating to family planning, responsible parenthood, breastfeeding and infant nutrition.

(c) The FDA shall issue strict guidelines with respect to the use of contraceptives, taking into consideration the side effects or other harmful effects of their use.

(d) Corporate citizens shall exercise prudence in advertising its products or services through all forms of media, especially on matters relating to sexuality, further taking into consideration its influence on children and the youth.

SEC. 20. Public Awareness. – The DOH and the LGUs shall initiate and sustain a heightened nationwide multimedia-campaign to raise the level of public awareness on the protection and promotion of reproductive health and rights including, but not limited to, maternal health and nutrition, family planning and responsible parenthood information and services, adolescent and youth reproductive health, guidance and counseling and other elements of reproductive health care under Section 4(q).

Education and information materials to be developed and disseminated for this purpose shall be reviewed regularly to ensure their effectiveness and relevance.

SEC. 21. Reporting Requirements. – Before the end of April each year, the DOH shall submit to the President of the Philippines and Congress an annual consolidated report, which shall provide a definitive and comprehensive assessment of the implementation of its programs and those of other government agencies and instrumentalities and recommend priorities for executive and legislative actions. The report shall be printed and distributed to all national agencies, the LGUs, NGOs and private sector organizations involved in said programs.

The annual report shall evaluate the content, implementation, and impact of all policies related to reproductive health and family planning to ensure that such policies promote, protect and fulfill women’s reproductive health and rights.

SEC. 22. Congressional Oversight Committee on Reproductive Health Act. – There is hereby created a Congressional Oversight Committee (COC) composed of five (5) members each from the Senate and the House of Representatives. The members from the Senate and the House of Representatives shall be appointed by the Senate President and the Speaker, respectively, with at least one (1) member representing the Minority.

The COC shall be headed by the respective Chairs of the Committee on Health and Demography of the Senate and the Committee on Population and Family Relations of the House of Representatives. The Secretariat of the COC shall come from the existing Secretariat personnel of the Senate and the House of Representatives committees concerned.

The COC shall monitor and ensure the effective implementation of this Act, recommend the necessary remedial legislation or administrative measures, and shall conduct a review of this Act every five (5) years from its effectivity. The COC shall perform such other duties and functions as may be necessary to attain the objectives of tins Act.

SEC. 23. Prohibited Acts. – The following acts are prohibited:

(a) Any health care service provider, whether public or private, who shall:

(1) Knowingly withhold information or restrict the dissemination thereof, and/or intentionally provide incorrect information regarding programs and services on reproductive health including the right to informed choice and access to a full range of legal, medically-safe, non-abortifacient and effective family planning methods;

(2) Refuse to perform legal and medically-safe reproductive health procedures on any person of legal age on the ground of lack of consent or authorization of the following persons in the following instances:

(i) Spousal consent in case of married persons: Provided, That in case of disagreement, the decision of the one undergoing the procedure shall prevail; and

(ii) Parental consent or that of the person exercising parental authority in the case of abused minors, where the parent or the person exercising parental authority is the respondent, accused or convicted perpetrator as certified by the proper prosecutorial office of the court. In the case of minors, the written consent of parents or legal guardian or, in their absence, persons exercising parental authority or next-of-kin shall be required only in elective surgical procedures and in no case shall consent be required in emergency or serious cases as defined in Republic Act No. 8344; and

(3) Refuse to extend quality health care services and information on account of the person’s marital status, gender, age, religious convictions, personal circumstances, or nature of work: Provided, That the conscientious objection of a health care service provider based on his/her ethical or religious beliefs shall be respected; however, the conscientious objector shall immediately refer the person seeking such care and services to another health care service provider within the same facility or one which is conveniently accessible: Provided, further, That the person is not in an emergency condition or serious case as defined in Republic Act No. 8344, which penalizes the refusal of hospitals and medical clinics to administer appropriate initial medical treatment and support in emergency and serious cases;

(b) Any public officer, elected or appointed, specifically charged with the duty to implement the provisions hereof, who, personally or through a subordinate, prohibits or restricts the delivery of legal and medically-safe reproductive health care services, including family planning; or forces, coerces or induces any person to use such services; or refuses to allocate, approve or release any budget for reproductive health care services, or to support reproductive health programs; or shall do any act that hinders the full implementation of a reproductive health program as mandated by this Act;

(c) Any employer who shall suggest, require, unduly influence or cause any applicant for employment or an employee to submit himself/herself to sterilization, use any modern methods of family planning, or not use such methods as a condition for employment, continued employment, promotion or the provision of employment benefits. Further, pregnancy or the number of children shall not be a ground for non-hiring or termination from employment;

(d) Any person who shall falsify a Certificate of Compliance as required in Section 15 of this Act; and

(e) Any pharmaceutical company, whether domestic or multinational, or its agents or distributors, which directly or indirectly colludes with government officials, whether appointed or elected, in the distribution, procurement and/or sale by the national government and LGUs of modern family planning supplies, products and devices.

SEC. 24. Penalties. – Any violation of this Act or commission of the foregoing prohibited acts shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from one (1) month to six (6) months or a fine of Ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) to One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00), or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the competent court: Provided, That, if the offender is a public officer, elected or appointed, he/she shall also suffer the penalty of suspension not exceeding one (1) year or removal and forfeiture of retirement benefits depending on the gravity of the offense after due notice and hearing by the appropriate body or agency.

If the offender is a juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the president or any responsible officer. An offender who is an alien shall, after service of sentence, be deported immediately without further proceedings by the Bureau of Immigration. If the offender is a pharmaceutical company, its agent and/or distributor, their license or permit to operate or conduct business in the Philippines shall be perpetually revoked, and a fine triple the amount involved in the violation shall be imposed.

SEC. 25. Appropriations. – The amounts appropriated in the current annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) for reproductive health and natural and artificial family planning and responsible parenthood under the DOH and other concerned agencies shall be allocated and utilized for the implementation of this Act. Such additional sums necessary to provide for the upgrading of faculties necessary to meet BEMONC and CEMONC standards; the training and deployment of skilled health providers; natural and artificial family planning commodity requirements as outlined in Section 10, and for other reproductive health and responsible parenthood services, shall be included in the subsequent years’ general appropriations. The Gender and Development (GAD) funds of LGUs and national agencies may be a source of funding for the implementation of this Act.

SEC. 26. Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). – Within sixty (60) days from the effectivity of this Act, the DOH Secretary or his/her designated representative as Chairperson, the authorized representative/s of DepED, DSWD, Philippine Commission on Women, PHIC, Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Economic and Development Authority, League of Provinces, League of Cities, and League of Municipalities, together with NGOs, faith-based organizations, people’s, women’s and young people’s organizations, shall jointly promulgate the rules and regulations for the effective implementation of this Act. At least four (4) members of the IRR drafting committee, to be selected by the DOH Secretary, shall come from NGOs.

SEC. 27. Interpretation Clause. – This Act shall be liberally construed to ensure the provision, delivery and access to reproductive health care services, and to promote, protect and fulfill women’s reproductive health and rights.

SEC. 28. Separability Clause. – If any part or provision of this Act is held invalid or unconstitutional, the other provisions not affected thereby shall remain in force and effect.

SEC. 29. Repealing Clause. – Except for prevailing laws against abortion, any law, presidential decree or issuance, executive order, letter of instruction, administrative order, rule or regulation contrary to or is inconsistent with the provisions of this Act including Republic Act No. 7392, otherwise known as the Midwifery Act, is hereby repealed, modified or amended accordingly.

SEC 30. Effectivity. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.


US Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare

ObamaCare is constitutional – US Supreme Court

Download the US Supreme Court decision upholding ObamaCare here. This was originally uploaded in the US High Court’s website.

Robert Barnes of Washington Post filed this report:

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the individual health-insurance mandate that is at the heart of President Obama’s landmark health-care law, saying the mandate is permissible under Congress’s taxing authority.

The potentially game-changing, election-year decision — a major victory for the White House less than five months before the November elections –will help redefine the power of the national government and affect the health-care choices of millions of Americans.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. sided with the majority in voting to uphold the law, Obama’s signature domestic initiative.

US Supreme Court upholds ObamaCare’s constitutionality

Passage of the legislation by the Democratic-controlled Congress in 2010 capped decades of efforts to implement a national program of health care. The legislation is expected to eventually extend health-care coverage to more than 30 million Americans who currently lack it.

Republicans in Congress and GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney have vowed to try and repeal the measure after the November elections.

The health-care issue thrust the Supreme Court into the public spotlight unlike anything since its role in the 2000 presidential election. The court’s examination of the law received massive coverage — especially during three days of oral arguments in March — and its outcome remained Washington’s most closely guarded secret.

The court reviewed four questions: whether it was within Congress’s constitutional powers to impose an “individual mandate” to purchase health insurance; whether all or any additional parts of the law must be struck down if the mandate is rejected; whether an expansion of Medicaid was unduly coercive on the states and whether all of those questions can even be reviewed before the mandate takes effect.

On the Medicaid question, the judges found that the law’s expansion of Medicaid can move forward, but not its provision that threatens states with the loss of their existing Medicaid funding if the states declined to comply with the expansion. The finding immediately raises questions as to how effectively the federal government will be able to implement the expansion of the joint federal-state insurance program for the poor.

The most crucial issue before the court was considered to be the individual mandate, known technically as the “minimum coverage” provision, because striking it down would jeopardize the ability of insurers to comply with other, more popular elements of the health-care law without drastically raising premiums. Under those other provisions, for example, insurers can no longer limit or deny benefits to children because of a preexisting condition, and young adults to up age 26 are eligible for insurance coverage under their parents’ plans.

During oral arguments in March, conservative justices indicated they were skeptical about the individual mandate, the provision in the 2,700-page health-care law that requires nearly all Americans to obtain health insurance by 2014 or pay a financial penalty.

Arguing the case for the Obama administration, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. defended the law as a constitutional exercise of congressional power under the charter’s commerce clause to regulate interstate commerce. He said lawmakers were regulating health insurance to deal with the problem of millions of people who lack coverage and therefore shift costs to the insured when they cannot pay for their medical care.

(Continue reading this story in the Washington Post website.)

Also read:

Supreme Court Allows Health Care Law Largely to StandNew York Times

US Supreme Court Upholds Obama Law’s Requirement That Most Americans Have Health Insurance – Time Magazine 


December 2011 nursing board exams results – full list of passers here

(August 23, 2012 update) – The results of the June 2012 nursing licensure exams has been released earlier today. Click here to download the full  list of passers.

***The Professional Regulations Commission has released this afternoon the names of the 22,760 passers during the Nurse Licensure Examinations held last December 2011. The Board of Nursing conducted the examinations in various points across the country namely Manila, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Dagupan, Davao, Iloilo, La Union, Legazpi, Lucena, Nueva Ecija, Pagadian, Pampanga, Tacloban, Tuguegarao, and Zamboanga.

Click here to download he full list of December 2011 Nursing Licensure Exam passers.  If you are one of the successful passers, congratulations! If not, better luck next time!

Meanwhile, here’s the list of the top ten performing schools during the December 2011 exams. To be included in this list, the school has to have at least 50 examinees. It should also have a passing percentage of not lower than 80%.

Ten Best Performing Schools – December 2011 Nursing Exams (click image to enlarge)

 

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How to file for PHILHEALTH benefits, especially for an operation

First of all, a Merry Christmas to my dear readers!

This year’s Yuletide season is particularly more momentous for me since I just underwent a gallbladder removal surgery last December 20 at a private hospital here in Metro Manila. My internal medicine doctor recommended me for an operation because of the presence of stones in my gallbladder (gallstones or “bato sa apdo” in Filipino).

The whole ordeal will be tackled at length in future posts, but for now, I’ll focus on how you can apply for PhilHealth benefits because it can really help a lot. The cost of my hospitalization almost reached P100, 000 (hospital bill plus the professional fees), and luckily, PhilHealth shouldered roughly a third of it. Please take note of the fact that I’ve only made 28 contributions to them so far.

First question: Does your employer deduct PhilHealth (or Philippine Health Insurance Corporation) contributions from your regular salary? You can check that in your latest pay slip.

Monthly premiums are shared equally between the employee and the employer. These, according to the PHIC website, are remitted by the employer through accredited payment centers nationwide. Keep in mind however that some companies do not entitle contractual employees (or casual, non-permanent) to PhilHealth benefits.

PhilHealth benefits can be very helpful during prolonged hospitalization

Second question: Does your employer remit these contributions to PhilHealth? You can proceed to your HR department (or the payroll unit) to ask for a Certificate of Contribution (CoC). If needed, you may also have to contact your former employer/s for this. This will be required by the hospital as soon as you apply for PhilHealth benefits. What should be included in the CoC? The certification that I got is only one page long, and it contained the following information:

1) Your name and PhilHealth number

2)  Months covered by the payment

3) The dates when the company remitted the contribution

4) OR (Official Receipts) numbers of these payments

5) The amount of contributions

6) Signature of the designated company official

After securing this, you also have to submit your updated Member Data Record sheet. In case this is not provided by your employer, proceed directly to the nearest PhilHealth office. For those living in Metro Manila, this directory may be helpful.

Let’s now proceed to Claim Form 1, which is the most important since it has to be signed by your employer. My company has ready-to-claim CF1s (signed in advance by our HR head). You must submit the sheet originally signed by your employer. You can download PhilHealth Claim Form 1 here.

Claim Form 2 is usually not provided by employers (alongside Claim Form 3), since hospital staffs are the one working on this. In any case, you can download PhilHealth_ClaimForm2 here and PhilHealth_ClaimForm3 here.

Why is it more convenient to file PhilHealth claims before your hospitalization? This is helpful if you do not have large cash on hand (some hospitals won’t allow you to be discharged unless you settle all incurred bills). If you opt to instead seek reimbursement for the expenses after the operation, the processing of claims takes 60 working days. Also, some HMOs require their members to immediately file for PhilHealth benefits.

PS: What I’ve written here applies only for locally employed PhILHEALTH members.


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