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Para maalagaang tunay! Angara bats for more specialized doctors for senior citizens

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Senator Sonny Angara on Friday deplored that the country is facing a “serious shortage” of geriatricians or medical doctors who are specially trained to attend to the healthcare needs and treatment of older people.

Speaking at the 6th Annual Convention of the Philippine Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology, Angara raised the need to improve the country’s ability to meet the healthcare needs of the Filipino elderly.

He cited data from the Retirement and Healthcare Coalition which showed that there are only 140 geriatric doctors for the 8 million senior citizens in the country.

“I learned that out of the 140 geriatric doctors, about half of them do not have actual clinic or hospital experience,” Angara said.

“And one of the main reasons for the lack of geriatricians is the lack of facilities where doctors can train for this particular specialty,” he said.

Angara added, “We need more venues where our geriatricians can hone their craft.”

He earlier filed Senate Bill No. 1157 that seeks to establish a medical scholarship program to address the shortage of doctors in the country.

He said that while the state-run National Center for Geriatric Health in Manila was inaugurated in 2010 supposedly to serve as the country’s first center for aged care, its capability is limited and that is has yet to be institutionalized by Congress.

Angara said that as a legislator, he “remains attentive and responsive to the needs of seniors” by pushing for legislation that would promote their welfare such as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act, which grants VAT exemption on medicines and medical supplies, medical services, and professional fees of doctors.

“Masasabi ko na minana ko ang adbokasiya para sa mga senior citizen mula sa aking ama,” Angara said referring to his late father, former Senate president Edgardo Angara.

The elder Angara authored the Senior Citizens Act of 1992 that granted discounts to senior citizens.

“How we treat our elders is an indication of how we treat our most vulnerable. Tungkulin natin na alagaan at suportahan sila upang masiguro na sila ay may buhay na maginhawa,” the younger Angara said.

He is now pushing for the passage of the Expanded Social Pension bill, which seeks to not only double the amount, but also widen the scope to cover those without any form of pension.

He sponsored last week the passage of the proposed Universal Health Care bill.

While all senior citizens are already covered by Philhealth, the proposed UHC will be more comprehensive to include preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services.