| Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Part II: “The Straphanger Goes Global” Series
Yes, it may sound redundant. But this column has advocated making affordable and doable “universal healthcare” genuinely global, especially among the least-developed countries in the world. Because pandemics cannot be eliminated and epidemics controlled if efficient healthcare is only available in developed countries and developing nations but not in the Third World.
This Sorsoganon-raised columnist has been writing for decades about such a “reinvention” of healthcare, beginning in his homeland, the Philippines. And starting in Sorsogon, the 19th-poorest among 81 provinces in the country.
Pol Ragos, a member of the OFW/Overseas-Filipino Nation (Mother Chapter) — with a membership of more than 43.5-K members, posted this comment about last Sunday’s Part I of this series: “Let us also remember that our country experiences shortage of nurses. Let us try to keep a balance between needs of our country and foreign nations. Thanks, Sir.”
This columnist thanked Pol Ragos for his comment. He also posted this reply: “I will quote you in the follow-up article that will be published this Wednesday. Because healthcare is now a universal human right. Developing countries (like our homeland, the Philippines) need to address the shortage of medical professionals like nurses. The solutions are actually stated in this Facebook Group called the “DrRizal.com/HMO Proposal for Sorsogon & the PH”( Please look at the pinned article called the “Top Ten Steps for a Post-Pandemic Philippines” in the said Facebook Group.”
If the United States and the other 20 wealthiest countries in the world will lead its “reinvention,” healthcare can indeed become a universal human right in 20 years by 2045 (or less) after a gestation period of two years (2023-2024).
The DrRizal.com/HMO Proposal can be a model for such a 22-year campaign for universal healthcare. It is a private Facebook group, and readers cannot browse its content unless they join it first. So, here are the TEN (10) STEPS FOR A POST-PANDEMIC PHILIPPINES — With Sorsogon as the Pilot Province, as posted in it:
- Formally start a province-based health-maintenance organization (HMO), which provides a preventive healthcare system for its members (subscribers). The provincial-hospital system of every province will become the nucleus of such an HMO. It will become a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), with the government having 1/3 of its own and the medical staff and employees getting another 1/3 of its equity. The rest will be offered to the public, especially its subscribers, and to Overseas Sorsoganons and OFWs.
- Sign the Provincial Patients’ Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, which will guarantee the people at least semi-annual medical, dental, and other medical examinations and appropriate treatments for those that need them. “Preventive medicine” will be the mantra of the HMO system, as owned by the PPP. [*The provincial share of the national value-added tax (VAT) will be used (or invested) 100% for the HMO project. In 2018, Sorsogon Province collected 1.4 billion pesos as its 40% share of the VAT. (The present budget of the Sorsogon Provincial Hospital, its district emergency hospitals, and town clinics is less than 300 million pesos per year.)]
- Start administering TB, STD, and other pandemic-and-drug tests to all residents and workers in the province. Positive people will be treated and aided in overcoming their addictions or disease.
- Start producing fruit wines and teaching farmers to produce locally-grown ingredients for drinks like piñacoladas that have medical benefits (our reason for registering the domain name www.2pinacoladas.com). This move will cut down on and even eliminate, alcohol addiction.
- Declare cigarettes and other tobacco products as poison and ban their entry, sale, and consumption in the province. Help will be provided to those who have difficulty stopping smoking; they will be given nicotine patches and other medical aids. Tobacco use kills at least 110,000 Filipinos annually, but complications from tobacco addiction kill tens of thousands more people. [*Start producing reusable-and-washable cloth facemasks, other healthcare gear, and safety equipment for the HMO-cooperative members and OFWs.]
- Begin the organization of schools of medicine, nursing, and other medical fields of studies, with students given access to educational loans payable only after they graduate and start working in our HMO or abroad and with a voluntary rate of interest paid. [*The goal is to produce at least 3 million new Filipino nurses and 100,000 physicians, plus 1 million other medical professionals, from 2024-2030. The world faces a shortage of at least 13 million nurses by 2030 — per the studies of the World Health Organization (WHO) and nursing federations in the United States.]
- Start the operation of a Research-and-Development (R&D) Center, which will conduct studies on the manufacture of natural-medicine-and-herbal products; and the ancient Pacific-islander diet, among other medical and scientific matters. And vaccines and anti-viral medications. To this end, this columnist also organized the so-called “Pacific-Islander Diet” on Facebook at this link.
- Start the cultivation of more herbal plants and begin their processing into products geared for export to the entire PH and abroad under the domain name www.herbalixir.com.[*All Parents-Teachers Associations (PTA) will be turned into cooperatives to produce not only cash crops (such as vegetables and sweet potatoes) but also permanent trees like cacao to produce chocolate and raise goats to produce milk as part of student-and-PTA co-op meals. Parents and teachers can lead the youth in having a good diet and exercise that can reduce preventable diseases like diabetes, the complications of which kill tens of thousands of Filipino diabetic patients.]
- Reopen the Provincial Hospital’s TB and Infectious Diseases Pavilions (with isolation wards and specialized ICUs) and relocate them to a site near a beach, where drug rehab centers and other medical facilities will also be available. And …
- Begin a systematic campaign to make the Philippines the first mosquito-free country in ASEAN by 2030 to 2040 and start producing plant-based insect repellent, insecticides, and pesticides (from starfish & other marine animals) that will lead to declaring the PH the “first organic country” in the ASEAN, if not in entire Asia.”
The ASEAN stands for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Ergo, the fielding of Filipino (and other foreign) medical students to complete their nursing studies, and obtain Board certification, in the United States will accelerate the back-to-basic human right of universal healthcare in their homeland. And in other countries where they will work in medical centers or hospitals. Eventually, affordable healthcare will become universal — especially with the aid of the WHO, the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Bank, and other global entities like Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, and other foundations. Yes, especially the foundations started by affluent clans like the Bloomberg Family Philanthropy of New York City, the Melinda-and-Bill Gates Foundation, and others like the Ford Foundation that have proven track records in helping solve the healthcare problems of mankind.
This Sunday’s column details the proposed HMOs operated as cooperatives in the Philippines. And replicating the first American Medical Center built in the Philippines in the early 1900s, which idea was already suggested to President Joe Biden in 2020 and how to fund it. And do it in at least 50 strategic locations in the world.