Implementation of RH Law now in earnest

 

Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial

Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial

It was reported recently that incoming Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial will review the Department of Health’s (DOH) “distorted” health expenditures which resulted in the failure to implement an ideal health insurance program.

This should be a much welcome gesture especially by the poor afflicted families because not only is Ubial determined to push for higher health spending in order to better cater to the needs of the Filipino people and vowed to use her expertise as a public health official to prioritize primary health care, but incoming President Rodrigo Duterte himself has vowed to allocate part of the earnings of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), which run to billions of pesos for health services.

It should be remembered that a few years back the Bicameral Conference Committee (Bicam) of Congress slashed P1 billion from the budget of the DOH, which had been targeted for the purchase of Family Planning products—condoms, birth control pills, intrauterine devices, and contraceptive injectables. The cut resulted in the reduction of the Family Health and Responsible Parenting budget from P3.27 billion to only P2.27 billion.

As was reported before, the RH Law was supported by a large majority of the nation’s population. What the anti-RH Senators in the Bicam managed to do with this budget cut was—without public knowledge or support—to return contraception availability from its legislated state as a public good back to the status quo ante—rendering it an “excludable” public good. Women with sufficient money have taken advantage of reproductive health and contraception all along—and continue to do so. But poor women are now excluded from that public good once again—despite the intentions of the law as passed and signed. Clearly, what happened was an attack on poor women.

One of the staunchest critics of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill and, who, no doubt took the cudgels of the Catholic Church in the Senate, was Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto, who now will be the Senate Majority Leader in the incoming Duterte administration.

It remains to be seen whether Sotto will continue to be a dependable mouthpiece and ally of the church when it comes to the full implementation of the RH law in the whole archipelago or he is going to turn now into a lamb – meek and submissive, the clown, with Ubial pushing strongly for it?

What is even more encouraging about the RH law is that Ubial said that she and her department would push for higher health spending in order to better cater to the needs of the Filipino people and vowed to use her expertise as a public health official to prioritize primary health care.

“Before, the focus was on hospitals. But because I’m a public health official, I will prioritize primary care, preventive, promotive services. Our dictum will be ‘prevention is better than cure.’

Talking about character and resolve for the interest of the poor and needy Filipino families!

 

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