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Former President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday slammed the recommendation of the National Bureau of Investigation to the Office of the Ombudsman to prosecute him and two former Cabinet members for technical misuse of public funds in connection with the implementation of the P3.5-billion anti-dengue immunization program by his administration. 

He slammed the bureau even as the Education department on Tuesday it and the Health department had pledged to cooperate in the development of two systems that would allow the government to monitor the condition of pupils and students previously administered with the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia®. 

The NBI earlier asked the Ombudsman to indict Aquino, former Health secretary Janette Garin and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Jr. for technical malversation under Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code. 

Aquino said the NBI violated his right to due process when it did not get his side or answer during its fact-finding investigation before coming up with its findings. 

“It’s not clear to me if the NBI followed the process to come up with their findings... We don’t know what evidence they have... Was there really an investigation conducted?” Aquino said at the Justice department after filing his rejoinder in the charges against him.  

He is being held responsible for the deaths of schoolchildren inoculated with the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine that he has previously denied. 

He said he was summoned by the NBI to appear before the bureau on May 25 and he sent his lawyers, but they were not given the specifics of any complaint. 

“They didn’t give us a copy of any complaint... We were just surprised by the reports of the filing of the case by the NBI,” Aquino said. 

 

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President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent the Universal Health Care Bill providing Filipinos the inclusion of preventive, promotive and rehabilitative health services for a better health system, Malacañang said Tuesday. 

 PRESIDENTIAL VISIT. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte shares a light moment with leukemia patient John Paul Cuilao, who was granted a chance meeting with the President as the boy celebrated his birthday at the Malacañan Palace on July 9, 2018. Joining the President is Secretary Bong Go of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President. Before meeting the President, Go had previously visited John Paul at the Children’s Medical Center in Quezon City, where he extended assistance to the boy and other pediatric patients. Presidential Photo

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque confirmed that the President issued the certification of House Bill 5785, following a 10-hour long 27th Cabinet meeting held Monday night.

“I am pleased to announce that our Universal Health Care Bill which we sponsored, defended, and passed in the House of Representatives was certified as urgent in tonight’s Cabinet meeting,” he said in a Twitter post.

The certification means the Senate can swiftly act on the pending UHC Bill which, according to Roque, is being heard by the Senate Committee on Health headed by Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito.

“Under this proposed law, we seek to provide for the right to health by providing primary care to all Filipinos. This is the free health services and medicines to the country,” said Roque in a press briefing in Indang, Cavite Tuesday.

Roque also recognized the role of barangay health care workers as gatekeepers of the bill.

“They are the first contact of the patients together with community nurses and midwives. In barangay health centers, they will be the ones to decide whether the patients be given medicines, need to go to a specialist, or require serious medical attention in a hospital,” said Roque.

Roque also said the UHC Bill will reorganize the prevailing Philippine Health Insurance Inc. into the Philippine Health Security Corp., which will then be the national purchaser of health services.

Unlike the current system of PhilHealth, Roque said the new process for UHC will be available to contributing and non-contributing members.

“There are two classifications: the contributing and non-contributing. The government will pay on the premiums of non-contributing,” said Roque, adding that the UHC will not rely on premiums and insurances alone.

“The government has too many investment and capital expenditures. We are aiming to continuously construct one barangay health centers per barangay, create bigger regional health units with 13 personnel, and provide district hospitals,” he said, adding PhilHealth would buy the medicines and would give the tariff on all professional services.

Some points of the bill include giving the full spectrum of health services to inpatient, outpatient, and emergency care services surrounding preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative medical, dental, and mental health services, institutionalizing the Health Technology Assessment and the creation of the Health Technology Assessment Council, and empowering local government units to be responsible in delivering health services to their respective communities.

Roque made the statement as Senator Ejercito said the bill will be passed in the Senate when session resumes this month.

“I applaud President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to certify the bill as urgent. Hoping to work on the passage of this landmark legislation once we resume session,” he said in a statement.

He noted that the increasing prices of basic goods make the passage of the Universal Health Care bill even more critical.

With prices of fuel, transportation, and basic goods skyrocketing, he said the passage of the bill will mean a lot to Filipino families in terms of improving their quality of life.

 

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To help maintain timeliness of researchers' implementation of their research projects, the Eastern Visayas Health Research and Development Consortium conducts project monitoring of Regional Research Funded (RRF) projects to three (3) institutions within the province of Leyte on June 28, 2018.


Of the three institutions visited, a total of five (5) researchers, including co-investigators, have been monitored: Dr. Katherine Chan of Divine Word Hospital (DWH); Mr. Jordan Vivo and Dr. Annie Perez of Visayas State University (VSU) Tolosa Campus; and Dr. Ethel Pearl Eamiguel and Dr. Ryan Cris Jordan of Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC).

 

The project monitoring focused on the researchers'; pacing in the implementation of activities based on the approved gantt chart, and on the utilization of their respective project funds, taking into consideration the timeframe of the projects implemented. Issues and concerns related to the project were properly addressed.

The researchers were also informed on the schedule of submission of required documents such as the progress and financial reports per signed and approved Memorandum of Agreement.

A group of pathologists from different countries in Asia will examine the effects and safety concerns of Dengvaxia vaccine, subject to the approval by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who said that the pathologists came from Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Singapore, from where the President will choose three experts who will comprise the panel which will look into the matter.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, however, has yet to confirm if the President will be able to create the panel and the duration of the study. He said that the health experts will be given compensation for their work.

“Mayroon naman po tayong sapat na budget para sila’y imbitahan dito sa Pilipinas at mag-aral doon sa kung anong dapat nilang pag-aralan para magkaroon sila ng konklusyon sa tunay na epekto ng Dengvaxia,” Roque said.

Duque has said that the foreign pathologists will be tasked to scrutinize findings from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital and the Public Attorney’s Office in relation with the dengue immunization program.

The expert panel’s output and recommendation will be submitted directly to the Department of Justice.

The government will also set up additional mechanisms to ensure their full independence.

Earlier, said that the conflicting findings of the UP-PGH and PAO, which conducted autopsies on children whose deaths were linked to the vaccine, prompted Duterte to “seek further advice” through the foreign panel of experts.

Last February, the UP-PGH said that only three of the 14 children who died of various causes some time after receiving Dengvaxia, died of dengue, and none of the deaths could directly be attributed to the vaccine.

The PAO, however, stood by its findings and has even filed criminal charges against Duque, former Health secretary Janette Garin and several others over the deaths of the schoolchildren administered with the vaccine and later died.

 

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With great honor and pleasure to serve fellow advocates on health research, the Eastern Visayas Health Research & Development Consortium (EVHRDC) welcomed participants from the Department of Health Regional Office No. II for a Benchmarking Activity and Dialogue on Health Research Initiatives recently held at the DOST Regional Office VIII, Government Center, Candahug, Palo, Leyte on June 26, 2018.

The visitors from DOH RO II were the Research Management and Development (RMD) Coordinator, Carissa Pagulayan, and Health Program Researchers, namely:  Charmaine Barangan, Desiree Deray, Madeline Tamayo, and Dan Reyes.

Participants of the activity were the EVHRDC Research Management Committee (RMC)   with Leonido Olobia as Chair, and members namely: Dr. Bayani Blas (RTRMF), Catherine Iglesias (CHED), and Dr. Amabel Ganzo (UPM-SHS). 

Also in attendance were the EVHRDC Coordinator, Dr. Lucia Dauz, and the committee chairs of ERC and SOMEC, Dr. Jane Borrinaga and Josephine Hipe, respectively.

One of the highlights of the activity was the sharing of best practices from committee chairs and members of the different EVHRDC committees, of EVHRDC in general, and that of DOH RO8.

There were also presentations on the overview of EVHRDC, its accomplishments for CY 2017 and mid of 2018, as well as the targets for the second semester of the current year.

After the presentations and an open forum, the participants were taken for a tour to the EVHRDC ERC Office.

Grateful for the opportunity, the EVHRDC thanked the visitors for considering region 8’s consortium in their benchmarking activity.

EVHRDC and DOH RO2 are hopeful to undertake collaborative projects and activities in the future.