Press Release
October 5, 2009


After two mega-typhoons hit the country over the last two weeks, Sen. Edgardo J. Angara is pushing for the amendment of the PhilHealth Law to extend coverage to children of poor families. Recent typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng have caused floods in Manila, Luzon and some areas in Visayas sending thousands of families to cramped evacuation centers with poor sanitary conditions.

"Children take the brunt of calamities like this. It is unthinkable how they are cared for in evacuation centers despite numerous relief and medical missions. The overcrowding in evacuation centers and the already compromised health status of these children make them susceptible to infectious diseases," he said.

"In the short term, we need to monitor their health and ensure that they are spared from deadly disease outbreaks. In the long term, we must provide a stable and sustainable insurance system for poor children," said Angara, father of the PhilHealth Law.

Majority of the victims in Manila and northern provinces are low-income families whose homes are not storm- and flood-proof. Since the onset of Ondoy on 25 September, many affected families evacuated to schools, churches and chapels, sports complex and gymnasium centers and other public buildings. Rising or stagnated floodwaters make evacuation centers conducive to contagious diseases.

In Laguna alone, around 100,000 families have been moved to evacuation centers, mostly in schools, and will wait until December for the floodwaters to subside.

"People can only do so much to keep these places clean and safe for children. There are newborns, toddlers and school-age children who all need proper and hygienic surroundings. Establishing an insurance system for them would help alleviate the burden of parents in providing proper care especially to sick children, especially in times of natural calamities," said Angara, a staunch advocate of children's health. His most recent campaign seeks to address the alarming child malnutrition in the country.

Angara is proposing that the PHilHealth Law extend its coverage to members' children through medical, diagnostic, screening, preventive, restorative, remedial, therapeutic and rehabilitative services. This aims to provide children with regular check-ups, immunizations, vaccinations, prescription drugs, laboratory tests, X-rays, hospital and clinic visits, medical equipment and dental and eye care.

"Among the vital commodities in our relief and medical missions, the availability of medicines and proper treatment to sick children are needed most at this time in the victims' rehabilitation. As children are helpless and highly vulnerable, it is our moral duty to extend to them this pre-emptive measure to save their lives," concluded Angara.

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