Press Release
April 19, 2023

Highlights of the statements of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
* Chairperson, Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking (SDGIFT)
* Hearing on the Status of Human Resources for Health (HRH)

Part 1
This is the public hearing of the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. We will continue to discuss today Senate Resolution No. 536, which I filed together with our Majority Floor Leader, Joel Villanueva, and the resolution's title is, "A Resolution Urging the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking to Conduct an Inquiry, In Aid of Legislation, On the Status of Human Resource for Health in the Philippines."

The reason that the Committee is hearing this is because there are overlapping concerns, agencies, and sectors that are affected by all of this. The two main SDGs would be SDG 3 on Good Health and Wellbeing, and SDG 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth. But offhand, SDG 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities is very much affected. How can your community be sustainable if there is no access to health workers? So doon pa lang sa tatlong yun, covered na yan.

And of course, with the advocacy I had since I became a senator, gender equality (SDG 5) is also affected because you know very well from the time of pregnancy pa lang to birth, affected na ang life ng nanay if she doesn't have decent maternity care. And then even the life of her newborn infant, even the unborn is already affected without the proper prenatal check-up.

So, marami talagang issues ang overlapping dito. And that is why we want to be sure that we cover all. They are all interrelated.

I will not repeat what has already been established and discussed in the previous hearing. We still had resource persons available virtually na hindi na natin natawag, so that is why we will prioritize them because they were already present last time. And then, we will have other resource persons.

* On that note, we will be able to start now and the first resource person for today is Dr. Tony Dans. He has been a regular resource person for many years in health hearings, sin tax hearings, not also new to sustainable development. Our suki, we are on borrowed time because I understand he has a clinic today now, as we speak. But I promise that he will be the first. I will give you the floor now. *

Part 2
Let me just give a very quick response [to Dr. Tony Dans' presentation] on voluntary retirement, or revisiting the mandatory retirement [of doctors]. Ever since we discussed this, with you as an example, may draft bill na kami ng staff ko and we have already given it to various agencies for review. We have received their comments and we'll be reviewing it. I feel like it's a low-hanging fruit na we should be able to do immediately. Thank you.

* Just one other feedback on the presentation regarding professionalizing the [Barangay Health Workers or BHWs], if you have a quick response to this or maybe later on na lang, DOH. There is actually a TESDA course pala on BHW training. So, I am just wondering if this training is aligned with what you have in mind, Doc Tony, or if you had the chance to see it, or maybe in the TWG, you can all talk together and give your thoughts on it kasi sayang naman, andyan na ang resources natin. TESDA is around, so I think that's the easiest... track to follow na i-mandate na all of them [referring to BHWs], if they want to receive that official status as a professional BHW. Kasi sangkatutak na rin ang mga certification ng mga yan. That I know. Lahat nagpapa-certify for whatever training. So as I said, professionalizing.

* I recall that that's actually one of the advocacy and bills of my brother, Sen. Alan, [seeking a] standard salary for the BHWs. Regular employment status of BHWs. So sama-sama na yun, di ba? If you meet the standards, undergo the course of training, then you should be professionalized and adequately compensated. But if I may add, and I'll leave it to the experts to thresh this out in the TWG: how will the BHWs now in their professional capacity work with the other health professionals in terms of providing for the health needs of the community? Yun naman yung goal natin, right? So doon sa 4.45 [WHO standard of healthcare workers per 1,000 population]... sabi mo nga it may not be the most accurate way of quantifying our needs. I think the BHWs should be part of that equation. If that's a system that we already have in place and just really needs to be brought to that level of being accounted for, ang service na nabibigay nila.

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