Press Release
January 21, 2010

Using tele-consultation via Internet

To help address the worsening health situation in several parts of the country brought about by inequitable access to healthcare services, Senator Edgardo J. Angara stressed the importance of utilizing technology in the delivery of medical care.

Alarmed by the report of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that there has been a continuous decline in the overall utilization of health care in the past decade, Angara urged the government to utilize ICT as a means of bringing basic services closer to the people.

Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, has allocated P100 million in the 2010 budget of the University of the Philippines for the National Tele Health Project. "Through this innovation, patients from far-flung provinces can save money on transportation expenses on initial diagnosis since proper treatment can be administered through telemedicine."

Telehealth may be as simple as two health professionals discussing a case over the telephone as a referral or mentoring call, or as complex as using satellite technology and video-conferencing equipment to conduct a real-time consultation between medical specialists in two different locations.

"As the Global Financial Crisis pinches on the lives of every Filipino especially the poor, we must intensify our efforts and increase budgetary allocations on social protection programs. Among others, health is a vital component in maintaining a country's viability and competitiveness in times of crisis. Thus, this P100 million allocation for telemedicine is very timely," said Angara who also chairs the Senate Committee on Science and Technology and the Congressional Commission on Science & Technology, and Engineering (COMSTE).

"Very often during periods of austerity, we see cutbacks in public spending in healthcare, we ought to rethink this bias against health spending, and highlight the imperative of providing access to healthcare to Filipinos. A good measure of a society's level of civilization is how it treats its members' health, the former UP President added.

According to the report of ADB, growth in the utilization of health services available at health facilities in the country has declined at an average annual rate of 6.9% over the 1998-2007 period.

The biggest drop was registered in utilization of rural health units (RHUs) and private clinics, declining by 8.9% and 8.4% per annum over the period 1998-2007, respectively.

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