Arroyo: Fast-track regional heart, kidney, lung centers

‘Little St. Luke’s institutes,’ she calls them

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
Last updated 04:32pm (Mla time) 08/06/2007

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the Department of Health to hasten the construction of heart, kidney, and lung centers in key cities nationwide and “to increase government equity and thereby expand coverage and expedite implementation.”


These centers will be built using Japanese and Philippine government funds, with the money from the Philippines to be sourced from savings, Arroyo said at the 21st anniversary of the St. Luke’s Heart Institute in Quezon City Monday.


Arroyo said from these centers she wanted to send a message that the “better fiscal health of the country results to health care closer to your home.”


At the same time, Arroyo said these centers should be like “little St. Luke’s institutes.”


The President’s husband, Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo, underwent a successful heart surgery at St. Luke’s and Arroyo has repeatedly expressed her gratitude to its doctors and staff.


“We want to fast track the creation of regional heart, kidney, and lung centers in key cities, especially for those patients who cannot visit or travel to Manila, not only because they can’t afford it maybe but also because their health condition, their medical condition would not allow them,” she said.


“For instance, patients in the provinces with a torn aorta will be more exposed to risk from the high altitude if they try to fly to Manila, therefore, we need little St. Luke’s institutes in the different main regional centers,” Arroyo added.


The regional heart, lung, and kidney centers will be piloted initially in the Vicente Sotto Hospital in Cebu, Davao Medical Center in Davao, Northern Mindanao Regional Center in Cagayan de Oro, and Bicol Regional Center in Legaspi, she said.


Arroyo said the DoH was also studying the introduction of outpatient health screening packages for cardiovascular and related diseases.


“The program will empower more Filipinos to consult and take their tests at world class facilities like the Heart Institute even if they don’t have to be hospitalized at the end of the test,” she said.


With the economy reaching a “new level of maturity and stability,” Arroyo said her administration would continue to pour in investments in health care.


She said that there were now about four million holders of PhilHealth cards. At least 10,000 botica ng barangay (village pharmacies) are now operational to offer half-priced medicines. She also urged Congress anew to pass the bill on cheaper medicines and more benefits for senior citizens.


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