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Saturday, December 3, 2022
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Easing the burden on the poor

I had an interesting conversation last Saturday that reminded me about how difficult it is for Filipinos to secure health care in their country.

I rode a taxi to SM CDO Downtown Premiere to host the Pink Day event sponsored by the breast cancer awareness advocacy group Thrive CDO.

Even before I warmed my butt on the seat the taxi driver chatted to me about his personal travails as he mentioned about the high price of rice, the rent of the taxi he drove and the illnesses of his wife and child.

The taxi driver who went by the name of Mannie Magan, a resident of Zone 1, Barangay Patag in Cagayan de Oro City based on his ID, said he has no money and relatives in the city.

I asked Magan to explain and he said he had unable to pay the rent for his taxi because he had to pay for his wife's medical expenses. I asked him what his wife's ailment was and he replied that it was myoma but failed to elaborate.

“Basta lagi daku (it's serious) ma'am," Magan said and I told him he was in luck because I was headed to SM CDO Downtown Premier where the Pink Day event is held and it offered free checkups for breast cancer. 

I told him to go home and bring his wife to the venue so she could have a checkup. I then told him that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and there are hospitals where checkups are free.

I also told him about Thrive CDO founded by Karen Lluch that can collaborate with doctors and non-government organizations (NGOs) for free services to breast cancer treatment.

I then told Mangan about the free services offered by the city hospital and the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) to indigent patients. 

But Mangan told me he had no PhilHealth and I replied that he had to apply for it. “I have no friends here four years ago when we moved from Davao because of (typhoon) Pablo," he said.

You don’t need friends for that, all you have to do is ask around, I told him. “If you reside in the city please visit Teddy Sabuga-a at City Halll so you can be assisted," I told Mangan.

He answered that he was renting in Igpit, Opol town which surprised me since I saw the CDO address in his ID card. I replied that he can ask for help from the Opol Mayor's office or the Governor's Office at the Capitol. 

Mangan said he was unable to process his PhilHealth card and other government ID cards because it would take days for him to secure even one government ID–time he cannot afford to waste since he had to drive the taxi to earn money for his family. 

I saw his point. I know that this is too much for the government bureaucracy to do but I used to ask if it is possibe for government agencies to order their personnel to go door-to-door and process the ID cards and requirements for the residents who are too poor to do so.

Can we make it simpler then? Right now there is one requirement followed by several sub requirements. I learned that the government will soon process a national ID card free of charge for Filipinos so it would be simpler for them to process their documents and avail of services offered by government.

I have been gone from the Philippines so long and I only keep tabs about what's happening in the country by reading the news online. I don't know if PhilHealth membership is automatic for the indigent, the elderly and mentally unsound.

Or should they be given assistance? I ask this because it is election season once again and it's a never ending dream for ordinary Filipinos like me and more so indigent Pinoys to see the day when we will be taken cared of by the government. 

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