Duterte encourages passage of bill for universal healthcare

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 23) — President Rodrigo Duterte has urged the Congress to prioritize the passage of the Universal Healthcare Bill during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.

During his speech, Duterte said there is much room for improvement in the country's healthcare system. He cited a disparity in outcomes between individuals who can and cannot afford the current healthcare services.

"Much is needed to be done to improve our healthcare system, which remains highly fragmented resulting in disparity in health outcomes between the rich and the poor, in the urban areas and rural areas," Duterte said.

The President also noted how 'several policies and operational bottlenecks' have constrained universal healthcare for this country.

He added that the administration aims to 'ensure that every Filipino gets the appropriate affordable and quality health services in appropriate facilities,' and that citizens will also be 'protected from financial burden due to sickness.'

Duterte, through his spokesperson Harry Roque, had earlier marked as urgent the passage of the said bill.

The House version of the Universal Healthcare Bill, which was passed September last year, states all Filipinos will be covered by a national health insurance. It also mentions that the current PhilHealth will be changed into Philippine Health Security Corporation, which would pay for medical fees and products.

A counterpart measure meanwhile is pending before the Senate.