Press Release
February 14, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara expressed his support for the Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Services (RN HEALS) program, which is set to launch next week and deploy 243 nurses to 28 municipalities in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental.

Angara has been meeting with leaders of the nursing profession to find a solution for the lack of job opportunities for nurses in the Philippines and the apparent deterioration in the quality of nursing education and recently filed a bill in the senate that will develop community health delivery and health team placement for rural area.

"Primary health services remain elusive or inaccessible to majority of our population, especially those living in the rural and poor areas of the country. As for our health care practitioners, particularly those in the nursing profession, a good number of them are denied employment opportunities to practice their trade and, consequently, the training to further improve their skills," said Angara.

Angara added that, "a program that aims to improve the accessibility and delivery of primary health services will inevitably create employment for our health care practitioners and hone their skills in the process. Conversely, increasing jobs and skill level in the health sector will render primary health services more available to the public."

The RN HEALS program is set to deploy 10,000 nurses all over the country to address the lack of quality health services to poor families and is a program of the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Regulations Commissions-Board of Nursing and the Philippine Nursing Association.

Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE) noted that in Region 1 the ratio of healthcare workers per person is a disproportionate 190 per 100,000 people.

If passed, the bill would establish one Local Health Unit (LHU) for cities and municipalities with a population of more than 20,000, and at least one registered nurse per 5,000 people, and no less than 2 nurses for each LHU.

The bill would also provide nurse-led operations and equipment for Telemedecine for 4th and 6th class municipalities with populations of less than 5,000. These nurses would be able to remotely consult with physicians, who would also be required to conduct periodic visits to the communities.

The implementation of telehealth and telemedicine would also allow nurses in the LHU's to electronically document patients and their records. Angara said that aside from improving basic health care services and delivery to remote areas, telemedicine will create the foundation for digital medical records. By collecting data from patients all over the country, transitioning to a digital medical record system will become easier.

The collection of digital records also creates a centralized information system that can be utilized by PhilHealth. By keeping track of its members, PhilHealth can make it easier for members to get the health care they need and at the same time sustain their membership, Angara noted.

"With the proposed Community Health Delivery and Health Team Placement Act he end goal is to elevate the availability of primary health care in the Philippines and the competence of Philippine health care practitioners to unprecedented heights," said Angara.

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