The heart of Philippine culture is the family, and children are often the most cherished and protected. Hence, when a child is born with a congenital health condition, or suddenly develops a serious disease, it is an extremely difficult situation for parents and relatives. It is even more tragic when the family does not have the resources for the necessary medical services.
This is why as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, we augmented the 2021 budget of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) by roughly P900 million more than what the Executive proposed (P1.042B) under the National Expenditure Program (NEP). With such funds, quality medical care will be provided to more children, particularly those from families who have financial issues to consider.
As one of the specialty hospitals under the Department of Health, the PCMC has an important role, which is to provide high-quality medical care specifically for children. The PCMC also offers training programs for medical and allied healthcare providers, specializing in pediatrics and other related areas of expertise. The augmented funding reflects the PCMC’s specialization, by prioritizing the acquisition of much-needed hospital equipment and the construction of a pediatric rehabilitation center, among others.
P639.8 million will go to the purchase of various hospital equipment that will allow the PCMC to accommodate more patients. Meanwhile, the construction of the pediatric rehabilitation center, with P95 million set aside for it, will greatly expand the primary services of the PCMC. The facility’s improved services will be able to help more patients with various conditions, including neurological disorders, spinal cord injuries, and musculoskeletal conditions that can interfere with a child’s growth and development.
Furthermore, P40 million will go to providing one year of free chemotherapy for children afflicted with cancer. Current data has shown that as of 2019, at least 4,788 Filipino children are identified with cancer every year. The government recognizes this, and has been concentrating on effective treatments for childhood cancer, including providing free chemotherapy agents for acute lymphocytic leukemia for the past decade.
Spearheaded by Dr. Julius Lecciones, executive director of the PCMC, the institution’s free chemotherapy program has significantly improved the survival rate of their cancer patients, from 16 percent to 83 percent. With the supplemental funds, the PCMC can save more children from childhood cancer.
Finally, P8.5 million has been earmarked for PCMC to do open heart surgery. The additional funding will allow fifty patients to undergo life-saving medical procedures, estimated to be at P170,000 per person. Though children who need heart surgery are usually brought to hospitals like the Philippine Heart Center, the concern is that the waiting line puts them at serious risk, particularly if they have to be operated on immediately. The PCMC has the capability to perform heart surgery for children, and this can shorten the waiting time for all the patients. Combined with PCMC’s facilities and services, the additional funding can literally save more young lives.
It is only fitting that PCMC is provided significant funding, as it provides much-needed services for a key segment of our population. Even more importantly, it is also a concrete demonstration of our belief in a better future, where we actively protect and nurture the next generations of Filipinos.
In the end, adding more funds to a medical institution for children should not be about “how much can we give”, but rather, it should be a declaration of “we must heal as many of our children as we can.”
Sen. Sonny Angara has been in public service for 16 years—nine years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and seven as Senator. He has authored and sponsored more than 200 laws. He is currently serving his second term in the Senate. E-mail: email@example.com| Facebook, Twitter &Instagram: @sonnyangara/WDJ