Press Release
May 16, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara said that goal of achieving universal healthcare in the country can be achieved by utilizing the tools of technology and by coordinating efforts between the government, academe and private sector.

Angara, chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), said that the commission has been supporting programs that utilize Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for telehealth, which can bring healthcare to far flung communities.

COMSTE member and Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona has recently announced that the DOH is working on a plan that will provide Filipinos with a universal health care in three years.

Ona is also a member of the COMSTE Health panel which identified the Telehealth project as a top national priority.

The National Telehealth Project, which was initiated by the University of the Philippines, Manila National Telehealth Center (UPM-NTC), is seen as an ideal partnership between healthcare and technology, which would enable doctors to remotely diagnose patients in rural and far-flung communities.

Remote consultations include the use of SMS and MMS services, video conferencing, and email referrals. The project has ten sites in four provinces, complete with workstations and training centers. In a 34 month period, there have 1,389 telehealth referrals from remote doctors.

The collection of data from these patients will create a database of digital records which 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.

Community Health Delivery and Health Team Placement Act

Angara recently filed a bill in the senate that will develop community health delivery and health team placement for rural area.

When 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.

Infant Mortality

The Essential Intra-Partum and Newborn Care (EINC) recently held a provincial workshop in Baler, Aurora to help medical practitioners learn new steps in curbing infant mortality rates.

Angara said that the team that held the workshop is able to replicate the workshop in areas that need training.

The EINC program was conceptualized when the WHO sought to develop a low cost, technology based medicine plan to address the issue of infant mortality in the country.

"The Philippines is one of 42 countries, globally, that accounts for over 90% of under five year old childhood deaths. 82,000 Filipino children die each year. Peering closer, our newborn deaths account for 45% of this staggering statistic," said Dr. Maria Asuncion Silvestre, Convener of the EINC Scale-Up Team of the WHO/DOH.

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