Press Release
April 10, 2012


Senator Edgardo J. Angara called for improved access to healthcare in the countryside when he spoke at the recent launch of Aspen Philippines.

"Filipinos in rural areas have very limited access to quality healthcare facilities and professionals. It's about time we address this issue," he said.

Also present at the Aspen Philippines' event were Ambassador Agnes Nyamande-Pitso of South Africa, Hon. Anthony Weymouth of the Australian Trade Commission, Department of Health Asec. Elmer Punzalan, and selected officials from Aspen.

"Aspen Philippines will meet the growing demand for quality but affordable generic medicines. Hopefully this will help bring down the prices of medicines especially for our folks in the countryside," he said.

Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Limited is the largest listed pharmaceutical company in South Africa. It supplies branded and generic drugs in approximately 100 countries, but is distinguished for being one of the 20 leading generic manufacturers worldwide, as well as being South Africa's number one generic brand.

Angara, Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, explained that despite the establishment of PhilHealth, whose enabling law he had sponsored, almost 40 percent of Filipinos remain without access to quality healthcare.

"That is the void we need to fill--the unresolved and unsolved dilemma of our country. As one philosopher once said, 'Show me how a country treats the health of its citizens, and I will tell you its level of civilization'," said the veteran legislator.

He cited his home province of Aurora as a prime example of rural health development in the Philippines, which is facing a unique adjustment problem.

"We just built a brand new hospital there, where Secretary Ona and I, together with the President just opened--modern and fully equipped. We brought in those nine specialists from Cabanatuan so that we could get outside advice on how we can run such a modern hospital in a rural environment," he said.

In conclusion, Angara reiterated his call for reform especially in the country's health sector.

"I'm glad that we now have a three-pronged approach to rehabilitating our health system. If you remember, about a year and a half ago, BBC ran a documentary on the status of the Philippine health system. Unless we do something about our health system, it will collapse in five years. So it's about time that a progressive and dynamic reform is led by our Secretary Ona."

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