By Leonel Abasola
MANILA – Two senators have filed bills to provide specialized health care to the country’s estimated 10 million senior citizens.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said under Senate Bill 979 or the Senior Citizens Hospital Act, a tertiary specialty hospital for geriatrics with a 200-bed capacity will be built in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, to be known as the Philippine Geriatric Medical Center (PGMC).
The PGMC shall adopt and enforce a program for indigents, with not less than 50 percent allocated for them.
“Just as there are specialty hospitals for pediatric and obstetrics, we believe that the elderly should have preferential care and assistance from the government” Pimentel said in a news release on Sunday.
Senator Risa Hontiveros also filed Senate Bill No. 1317 to rename the National Center for Geriatric Health, located in San Miguel, Manila, as the Philippine Geriatric Center, still under the direct control and supervision of the Department of Health
The existing hospital development plan, current bed capacity and service capabilities, including organizational structure and staffing requirements, shall be updated, according to Hontiveros’ bill.
“Most of our aging population have no financial means, making the highly specialized field of geriatric medical and long-term care even more out of reach,” she said in another news release.
A report by the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2020 showed that senior citizens make up 8.5 percent of the total household population or 9.22 million, higher than the 7.5 percent or 7.53 million in 2015.
“The Philippines will be an aging society by 2030. This gives us all the more reasons to create and maintain purpose-built facilities that will address their needs, especially those who don’t have a support system or financial capability” Pimentel explained.
In January 2022, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would create the National Center for Geriatric Health and Research Institute (NCGHRI) but it did not prosper.
The NCGHRI would be mandated to establish, operate, equip, and maintain an integrated medical institution specializing in geriatric health services, while dedicated medical facilities and geriatric specialty centers will rise across all regions.
The bill said it will minimize hospital costs to around PHP50,000 per patient and improve the overall care of senior citizens. (Leonel Abasola/PNA)