More affordable medicines


In my previous column, I touched upon New Year’s resolutions. You know that one thing I always resolve is to be the best at something I’m doing professionally. For other people, a common New Year’s resolution is the resolution to lose weight and be healthier.

This is not surprising, considering that the Christmas to New Year season is one of seemingly endless family and other gatherings, where we can’t help but feel that it’s time to abandon our diets and indulge in rich food and drink. Many of us wake up on 1 January, several pounds heavier and happier, if unhealthier.

January is the month we focus on recovering, on getting ourselves back on track in terms of our health. The struggle with one’s weight is real, but necessary. According to the latest data from the Department of Health (DoH), the top killers in our country include cardiovascular disease and diabetes – conditions that are impacted by our weight.

According to the DoH, of 582,183 deaths, 33,452 resulted from cardiovascular disease and 33,295 from diabetes. These numbers are alarming and should not be taken lightly. I, myself, have learned to live with diabetes and hypertension.

It should hearten us to know that the government is keen on addressing the medical needs of Filipinos afflicted by these diseases. Just recently, the Department of Finance, in a series of social media posts, reminded the public that starting this month, medicines and drugs for the control of diabetes and hypertension will no longer have value-added tax. This means cheaper medicines for those with these ailments.

This development was made possible because of the government’s Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, which allowed the national government to collect more taxes from products in order to finance programs for health, education and basic social services for indigent citizens.

The clamor of the people for accessible healthcare has not fallen on deaf ears. In tandem with more affordable medicines, Filipino citizens can look forward to the signing of the Universal Health Care Act, which will provide affordable healthcare to citizens, regardless of socio-economic status.

Of course, the ideal scenario would be one where a person doesn’t need medicine or treatment in the first place, which is why health promotion is an important prong of healthcare. In the meantime, accessible and affordable health services and medicine are there to meet existing needs.