Press Release
July 11, 2007

Villar files twin health bills

SENATE President Manny Villar introduced a bill seeking to address the worsening problems of malnutrition and hunger in the country.

In filing Senate Bill (SB) 250 entitled "An Act strengthening the national nutrition program, appropriating funds therefore and for other purposes," Villar expressed the need to promote food security in households through effective nutritional strategies and programs.

The proposed Nutrition Act aims to strengthen the National Nutrition Council as the concerned policy-making body and provide approaches in implementing programs towards eradicating malnutrition and hunger.

This year's Social Weather Station (SWS) first-quarter survey, conducted from Feb. 24 to 27, reported that the percentage of families experiencing involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months stayed at a record-high 19 percent, or an estimated 3.4 million households.

The survey found that hunger worsened in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon. It declined in the Visayas, while it barely changed in Mindanao. The record-high incidence of household hunger of 19 percent was first set in November 2006. It has been at double-digits since June 2004.

At the same time, Villar also filed a bill seeking to lower the prices of medicines in the country.

In his explanatory note of SB 90 entitled, "An Act providing for cheaper medicines and for other purposes," Villar said, "Many of our countrymen die not because their sickness is incurable but due to lack of medicine on account of poverty. The government cannot always remain indifferent to this reality."

"The proposed legislation will amend Republic Act 8293 otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code in order to create competition among drug companies which will in effect lower the prices of medicines for the benefit of public health," he said.

The bill provides, "The use or other exploitation by the government or any of its authorized representatives of drugs to protect public health shall be immediately executory and shall not be subject to any temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction or such other provisional remedies that will prevent its implementation."

Villar, who joins his colleagues in pushing the measure by filing his own version, said he looks forward to its consolidation and eventual passage through the will and teamwork of legislators of the 14th Congress.

The two health bills were filed by Villar in pursuit of his five- or "V"-point platform which includes health, aside from education, entrepreneurship, environment and agriculture.

"Enabling the underprivileged to have access to health care through an integrated approach to health development is long overdue in protecting their right to health as guaranteed by the Constitution," Villar said.

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