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DOH target: Basic check-up for 20M poorest Filipinos by Christmas

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) will provide basic check-up for the 20 million poorest Filipinos in the next 100 days starting Thursday, September 15.

The start of the mandatory check-up coincides with the unveiling of the Duterte Health Agenda at the National Health Summit in Pasay City on Thursday.

"We intend to measure the effect of our launching of the Duterte Health Agenda in the next 100 days after the launch. That would fall exactly on December 25, and we said that would be our Christmas gift to the Filipinio people and that is to have mandatory check up of the 20 million poorest Filipinos," Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said in a press conference on Wednesday, September 14.

According to the health secretary, a simple, basic check-up can lead to the early detection of several illnesses.

"[For example], cataract, malnourishment, underweight, underheight – physically, you can see that, and you can intervene already. That's basic check up, basically, me, I've been a public health worker, I can diagnose [leprosy] just by looking at the patient. I don't need a high-tech gadget or a microscope to diagnose that," she added.

But Ubial lamented that not all Filipinos today have access to professional health workers. In fact, during the Aquino administration, she said about 30% Filipinos don't have regular access to a health facility.

President Rodrigo Duterte has urged the health department to look at Cuba's health servicesespecially its health human resource – as a model for public health. 

The doctor-to-patient ratio in Cuba is at one doctor for every 1,075 population, while it's one doctor for every 33,000 population here in the Philippines. (READ: Learning from Cuba's health system: 35,000 more doctors needed in PH)

"Our doctors are probably seeing 60 patients a day in the rural health unit, so, really, what our doctors would probably do is stay in rural health unit and not go to barangay visits, even the midwives and nurses," Ubial noted.

"So ang nangyayari, really, and we're seeing this, dadating 'yung pasyente, kasinglaki na ng ulo 'yung bukol. Sana nakikita pa lang na maliit, naooperahan na," she explained. (So what happens really, and we're seeing this, the patient comes and their lump is already as big as the head. The ideal is to operate while the lump is still small.)

On Wednesday, Ubial listed a number of other conditions that can be detected during a basic check-up, including Vitamin A deficiency, hematologic conditions, renal problems, and illnesses due to poverty.

"We hope by December 25 we can announce to all of you that we have attained that goal of providing a basic check-up to the 20 million poorest Filipinos," she said. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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