Press Release
June 14, 2023

Designate focal person for senior citizen concerns, Tolentino urges new health chief

MANILA - Senator Francis 'TOL' N. Tolentino urged newly appointed Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa to designate a focal person within the Department of Health (DOH) that will focus on handling the welfare of the country's senior citizens.

"Mayroon ba po talagang (in-charge) para sa senior citizens? Ito yung tao na focal person natin para sa ating mga senior citizens?" Tolentino asked Herbosa during the senator's weekly radio program on DZRH.

Tolentino in February filed Senate Bill No. 1799 or the proposed "Comprehensive Senior Citizen Welfare Act." Under the said bill, the DOH in coordination with local government units (LGUs), non-government organizations (NGOs) and people's organization (POs) for senior citizens shall institute a national health program and shall provide an integrated health service for the elderly.

Tolentino explained that there should be a designated official in-charge within the DOH hierarchy that will solely focus on health and welfare of Filipinos aged 60 years old and above to ensure their well-being, considering various morbidity/comorbidity that could occur in that life period.

Herbosa, for his part, admitted that there is currently no one in charge when it comes to handling senior citizen concerns based on the DOH's organizational chart, but the former National Task Force adviser concurred to Tolentino's suggestion that there should be a focal person on the said matter.

"Hiningi ko yung organizational functional chart nila ngayon. Wala e. Alam ko kasi mayroon iyan. In fact, ako iyon eh (dati), ako yung in-charge undersecretary for seniors and mga persons with disability kaya ako yung pinupuntahan ng mga organizations at tinututukan iyan. Hindi ko ngayon mahanap iyan eh," said Herbosa.

According to Herbosa, one of his priority reforms to be implemented is the suggestion raised by Tolentino considering that "senior citizens are the ones with higher morbidity."

"Ilalagay ko na iyan at priority ko po iyan kasi ako po ay isang senior citizen at kailangan nila ng tulong... sila yung mas maraming iniinom na gamot, sila yung mas kailangan madalas bantayan, sila yung nagkaka-stroke, nagkaka-heart attack, at iyon yung mga top diseases, causes of death natin e. So, I think it's very important," the cabinet official stressed.

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