Miriam Santiago’s game-changing health bill

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago

It took an ailing Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago to introduce Senate Bill 2284, which calls for the establishment of a stakeholder strategic summit, quality of life education, awareness initiative, health care workforce training, an advisory committee and palliative care-focused research, and for this the nation should be thankful.

In simple terms, the bill simply seeks greater state support for patients with serious illnesses not only for purposes of curative treatment but using an approach that would also take care of the patient’s mind and spirit, especially of children, and involves giving support to the family.

This is definitely a game-changing health program that should strongly be advocated by the Department of Health (DOH) and staunchly supported by hospitals and medical practitioners as the country is very much wanting in palliative care.

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

”People living with a serious illness experience inadequately treated symptoms, fragmented care, poor communication with their doctors and enormous strains on their family caregivers,” Santiago, who is battling lung cancer said.

She added that to improve the lives of patients and their families, there should be public outreach and education on pain and symptom management of chronic diseases.

I do not know if Sen. Santiago is aware of the existence of Kythe Foundation, but what she is talking about is what Kythe has been trying to do – knocking at the hospital doors for them to be recognized and accepted as a beneficial partner in caring for their patients. The only difference is that Kythe is more known for their specialty in caring for children rather than adults with chronic illnesses, thus, it has the Kythe Child Life Program (http://kythe.org/site/).

While Kythe, a non-stock, non-profit institution, continues to struggle for sources of funds to make their program sustainable, especially with the abolition of the PDAF, hopefully Santiago’s Senate Bill 2284 becomes a law, sooner than later, so that its program, policies and practices could be part and parcel in hospital settings throughout the country to the advantage of patients and their families.



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