Health groups urge lawmakers to finally approve RH Bill
By KC Santos
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA –The Reproductive Health Practitioners of the Philippines (RHPP) is calling on lawmakers to finally approve the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.
The RHPP is a network of health practitioners from all over the country.
Various groups including the Integrated Midwife Association of the Philippines Inc. (IMAP Inc.), Philippine League of Government and Private Midwifes Inc.,(PLGPMI), the Department of Health (DoH) and the Alliance of Young Nurse Leaders & Advocates (AYNLA) said that once pushed, the RH Bill will have implications on the universal healthcare of the primary stakeholders.
Former Health secretary Alberto Romualdez, a supporter of the RH Bill, said the bill “will not solve all our problems but we have to look at the RH Bill as just one aspect of starting true universal healthcare.”
Romualdez said the groups are determined to have the RH Bill actualized given the “terrible” financial health care expenditures that many patients suffer from.
He said about 56 percent of the total healthcare expenditure comes directly from the “patient's pockets,” and that the government should rectify such flaws in the budget system for the provision of health care.
East Avenue Medical Center chief Dr. Ricardo Gonzales cited that some hospitals, like the Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, often conduct an average 120 births a day. As a result, some patients are turned down and referred from one hospital to another due to lack of equipment and human resource.
“The RH Bill can help correct this recurring problem. We have great hope that our legislators from the Senate and Congress will find a way to provide for us enough resources need to repel this prevalent problems,” Gonzales said.
He added that the RH Bill goes beyond family planning but also equal access to quality health care assistance.
Romualdez added that the bill can encourage sustainable health care programs and infrastructure, which will lessen the rate of maternal mortality in the country.
“There are two million babies born every year and 30 percent of those were unplanned, unwanted or mistimed. If they are given access to family planning methods ideal for their situations then for sure more women will be saved from turning to unsafe methods of abortion,” he said.
IMAP Inc.'s Patricia Gomez said that the RH Bill also includes breastfeeding and the teaching of health practitioners of the various options couples, especially for wives open to family planning methods.
“Most of the people who complain about the RH Bill don't have to go through the sacrificial act of giving birth and caring for the child. It should be the women's choice,” she said.
The bill once passed should also aid youth groups like AYNLA in helping underserved groups in the community like teenage mothers.
Romualdez reiterated that the RHPP does not intend to stop childbirths in the country but to promote a client-centered care and medical eligibility criteria due to all Filipinos.
The RHPP is also set to release a unified statement of support for the RH Bill at Congress as well as a dialogue with legislators in the Senate and House of Representatives.
“We seek for the legislation of the RH Bill because otherwise, this will eventually die just like other programs which were not supported,” Romualdez said.