Press Release
February 19, 2008


Noting changes in the global health environment as well as continuing critical gaps in the country's health sector, Senator Edgardo J. Angara called for a roadmapping of the health sector in order to review existing laws on health, the curriculum for medical and health sciences education, current efforts on health R&D, and public financing of health.

"The world has changed dramatically and we must set a strategic direction for our health sector. Primarily, we must review how we educate and motivate our health professionals," he said.

Angara said that the curriculum of medical and health sciences education as well as research initiatives must focus on solving the country's health problems.

He cited the high infant and maternal mortality rate, malnutrition and the emerging diabetes crisis as the country's top health challenges.

"As of 2006, our infant mortality rate is at 24 deaths per 1,000 live births. The under-five mortality rate is about 32 per 1,000 live births. To me, it is scandalous that at this day and age, infants and mothers still die prematurely.

"The country's maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has not declined since the 1990s, with 172 women out of 100,000 live births dying during child birth, or approximately 4,100 women each year. This is the highest in Asia.

"Further, the prevalence of malnutrition among school-aged children is one primary cause of high drop out rates in most our schools in depressed areas. To date, there are 3.6 million preschool who are underweight and malnourished.

"Moreover, the Philippines ranks 10th among all countries with the highest diabetes incidence. The disease is more rampant here today than 20 years ago, and is now the 9th leading cause of death in the country. It is increasingly affecting even the younger generations," he said.

Angara cited a BBC report that said that if the Philippines does not take care of its delivery of health services and the training of its health care professionals, the health profession may collapse in less than five years time.

He called for a health summit in cooperation with the Department of Health, the National Institutes of Health based at UP Manila, and the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE).

Angara is the author of major health laws including PhilHealth, the Breastfeeding Law, and the National Institutes of Health.

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