Tag Archives: Department of Health

Filipino PWDs this February 2019

Had there been persons with disabilities who took advantage of the early registration?

The latest data that The PWD Forum could find was from a report in February 7. A total of 760,530 incoming kindergarten, and grades 1, 7 and 11 had preregistered in public schools across the country for School Year 2019 to 2020—11 days  after the Department of Education (DepEd) announced the Early Registration Module of the Learner Information System (LIS).

About 215,363 came from Region 4-A or Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), 127,285 from the National Capital Region (Metro Manila), 69,257 from Region 8 (Eastern Visayas), and 64,972 from Region 10 (Northern Mindanao).

In 2010, most of the persons with disabilities in the country are in Region IV-A.

In any case, the secretary of the Department of Health has agreed that students should be made to understand mental health conditions.

Dapat pinapakilala na itong pagtanggal sa stigma sa eskuwelahan pa lamang para yung mga bata maintindihan na may ganitong mental health conditions na kailangan maintindihan at tugunan ng tama at hindi ibig sabihin ay hopeless case na yung kondisyon,” he has said in the report.

Letting PWDs study alongside non-PWDs has been one of the things I aimed for when I started this blog. I have no doubts that this will help everyone just like what it has done to Palestinian artist Mohamed Dalo; Czech athletes Jiří Ježek, Martin Kovář, Běla Hlaváčková, and Petra Kurková; and Bahamians Townsely Roberts and Gary Russell.

If PWDs and non-PWDs study together, as I have argued when The PWD Forum turned four, there would be no need to build exclusive educational institutions. Even PWDs can finish degrees: Maricel Apatan, Marc Joseph EscoraSafiya Mundus, Arnel Navales Aba, and Godfrey Esperanzate Taberna. We just have to believe.

Apparently, not everyone is willing to give PWDs a chance. The JCSGO Christian Academy has been alleged in a report to have discriminated an incoming third grade student with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Under education for all, wala tayo dapat tinatanggihan ang bata na mag-aral, anuman ang kanyang maging kalagayan. Kailangan nating mabigyan ng pantay na karapatan ang lahat ng bata para makapag-aral.” ~ DepEd National Capital Region Director Willie Cabral

Mental health in the Philippines

After more or less 28 years, the law that could provide affordable mental health services for Filipinos has been signed.

Referred to as the Mental Health Law, the Republic Act 11036 would secure the rights and welfare of persons with mental health needs, provide services for them even in barangays, improve mental healthcare facilities, and promote mental health education in schools and workplaces.

It also aims to (1) provide psychiatric, neurologic and psychosocial services to the regional and other tertiary level hospitals, (2) add mental health service providers, and (3) introduce anti-stigma or anti-discrimination programs in schools and workplaces. Mental healthcare would not just be concentrated in urban areas anymore and would highlight the importance of research required to formulate and develop culturally-relevant national mental health programs.

The Mental Health Law has been signed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators Loren Legarda, Antonio Trillanes IV, Paolo Bengino Aquino IV, Juan Edgardo Angara, and Joel Villanueva.

A Human Right

Before the Mental Health Law was legislated, there have been at least 16 other bills focusing on mental health.

Former senator Orlando Mercado was the first one to file an act about it in 1989. The next year, another version was filed by Senator Jose Lina. Then in 2000, Executive Order 470 was issued, creating a council for mental health attached to the Department of Health (DOH).

The Philippine Mental Health Policy came into being in 2001, signed by former health secretary Manuel M. Dayrit. But it was revised four years after over 4.5 million cases of depression had been reported.

The figures went down as a result but the cases of anxiety and alcoholism have gone up in the succeeding years. Suicide, too, which was “seriously contemplated” by Filipino students as young as 13 years old. By 2012, 2,558 Filipinos died by suicide (World Health Organization) and 1 in 5 Filipino adults has some form of mental illness (Department of Health).

The destruction wrought by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) across the central Philippines—particularly in Marabut, Samar, Carles, and Estancia—led the government to scale up its community mental health programs and train city and municipal health officers in identifying mental health problems. It spearheaded the first public health convention on PWDs in order to improve their access to health and wellness services.

Then it signed an administrative order in 2016 for the nationwide implementation of its mental health program. It also created a national hotline for mental health assistance in 2017. That same year, the Senate passed the Senate Bill 1354 or the Mental Health Act of 2017 that enable affordable and accessible mental health services to Filipinos.

Globally, more than 300 million people are living with depression so, in the Philippines,  the DOH together with the WHO and the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation launched Hopeline, a 24-hour phone-based counseling service for individuals who suffer from that. Other organizations that are helping are the Youth for Mental Health Coalition, Incorporated, Silakbo PH, Isanliyab Servant Leaders’ Union, and Where There Is Hope (WTIH).

Mental health is important because all aspects of people’s lives is affected by it. Depression, suicidal ideation, and bipolar disorder are currently the most common mental health problems in the country, and one in every three Filipinos has a mental health problem1. There is only one psychiatrist for every 250,000 mentally ill patients, though, and the fund set aside for mental health is just five percent of the health department’s total annual budget2.

Furthermore, most of the mental health facilities and institutions are within the National Capital Region3. Most of the victims are overseas Filipino workers, residents of typhoon-prone areas, families that have abusive parents, and those that lived through disasters and violence.

With these in mind, The PWD Forum cannot but echo a Philippine senator’s hope for mental health in the country: that it will be eventually accepted as a genuine public concern that requires accessible medical care, consistent government support, and compassionate social understanding.

“Help is finally here. The Mental Health Law cements the government’s commitment to a more holistic approach to healthcare: without sound mental health there can be no genuine physical health.” ~ Sen. Risa Hontiveros

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the GMA News

1This estimate was from a population survey conducted by the UP-Philippine General Hospital in Western Visayas more than 20 years ago. It was shared by Dr. Lourdes Ignacio, professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, during her lecture on “Reaching the unreached: Integrating mental health care in general health care” before national academicians and national scientists of the National Academy of Science and Technology.

2From the allotment, 95% goes to the maintenance of mental health institutions and personnel’s salary.

3They are the National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong, Cavite Center for Mental Health in Trece Martires, Mariveles Mental Ward in Bataan, and psychiatric wards in the Philippine General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, University of Santo Tomas Hospital, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, and Metro Psychotherapy Facility.

Notes:

  1. Depression is a common and serious medical illness that can cause feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to suicidal ideation, which means thinking about or planning suicide.

Bipolar disorder, on the other hand, is an illness that causes unusual shifts in mood. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by failure to understand reality. Anxiety causes nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. All of them—depression, suicidal ideation, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety—can be treated through medication, counselling, and social rehabilitation.

  1. In rural areas: mental disorders are a result of other-worldly spirits or witchcraft.
  2. The state-run insurance firm, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) recently added mental illness under its coverage but for severe disorders and short- duration of confinement only.

Association of Disabled Persons-Iloilo

Moved by the Second National Congress for the Disabled Persons, some residents in Jaro, Iloilo established the Association of Disabled Persons-Iloilo, Incorporated (ADP-II) in 1990.

Its members has grown to 800 since then to “integrate persons with disabilities (PWDs) into mainstream of society” in collaboration with local government units, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Health (DOH), private sectors, non-government organizations (NGOs), and other disabled persons organizations (DPOs) in municipalities.

ADP-II has been empowering the different PWD organizations in the 43 local government units (LGUs) in Iloilo. Its services aim to embolden even the children in the region in support of the Christian Blind Mission (CBM), Lilliane Stitching Funds (SLF), Association Soeur Emmanuelle (ASMAE), and Commission on Population (POPCOM).

The CBM, SLF, ASMAE, and POPCOM are NGOs in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and the Philippines respectively.

ADP-II has also initiated some income-generating programs such as the May ‘K’ Park, a restaurant that is the first and the longest running business of the association since 1993; comfort rooms and case-by-case cards, which is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); and prosthesis making.

In 2002, ADP-II has formed the ADPI Multi-purpose Cooperative (ADPIMPC), which provided livelihood and promoted technologies that facilitate mobility to its members. It has also assisted during the relief operations after the devastation of typhoons Frank and Yolanda as well in putting up the Aging and Disability Focal Point (ADFP) in Estancia and Concepcion.

Currently, ADP-II keeps the radio program “K-Forum,” which is aired in the GMA Network, a media company in the Philippines, every Sundays at 2:00-3:00 p.m. It also maintains a website, an email, and a social networking account.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Tomotatsu Gima

Acknowledgments: Bob Flores and May

New Vois Association of the Philippines

In March 2007, the Philippine Laryngectomee Club (PLC) decided to do something more than it had envisioned when it established itself 11 years ago.

It would not just support those with throat cancer but those with speech impairments as well. It would conduct esophageal speech training for people with disabilities (PWDs) in Quezon City.

An ex-officio member of the Alyansa ng May Kapansanang Pinoy (AKAP-Pinoy), the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) has been involved in monitoring the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It assists in implementing Republic Act 10070 and Executive Order 417.

Last July 19, 2010, the NVAP rallied to raise awareness on the violations of the Magna Carta of the Disabled Persons (Republic Act 9442), specifically on the granting of the 20% discount on medical purchases. It led to several other lobbying activities at the House of Representatives and impelled the Mercury Drugstore Corp. to grant the said discount on March 1, 2011.

The NVAP also chaired the International Disability Day last December 3, 2010. It is also the one presiding over the annual Freedom Walk activity since June 2011.

“The event is dubbed the ‘Freedom Walk’ as a way for the PWD sector to celebrate Philippine Independence Day. This is also an expression of their desire to be free from shackles of discrimination, inequalities and poverty,” Captain Oscar Taleon, president of AKAP-Pinoy, was reported saying.

The Freedom Walk is usually participated in by the National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the House of Representatives Committee on Social Services, the Department of Health (DOH), the National Anti-Poverty Commission, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Among the other non-government organizations (NGOs) that would also take part are the Philippine Academy on Rehab Medicine, the Philippine Federation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (PFRD), the Philippine Association of Citizens with Developmental and Learning Disabilities, the Autism Society of the Philippines, the Philippine Blind Union, the (AKAP-Pinoy), as well as the SM Disability Affairs Program. (Photo from the NVAP Facebook Page)

“NVAP activities revolve around the following three main issues: (1) cancer support and rehabilitation of speech-impaired PWDs, (2) tobacco control advocacy, and (3) persons with disabilities advocacy.” ~From the NVAP website

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the UPMMS Publicity

Quezon City

Having around 27,600 persons with disabilities (PWDs) in 2010*, Quezon City has started caring for its PWD residents in August of 2009.

It has considered expanding then the D. Tuazon Elementary School so that the PWDs undergoing treatment or rehabilitation at the National Orthopedic Hospital can study there.

The city has also conducted its first summit for PWDs on this day last year with the theme, “Making Rights Real for Filipinos with Disability.” Involved in the said activity are the Social Services Development Department (SSDD), National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA), Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Education-Special Education (DEPED-SPED) Division.

Recently, its current mayor signed Executive Order No. 10 establishing the Quezon City Persons with Disability Affairs Office (QC-PDAO). It will be the lead agency that would address the issues and concerns of PWDs, and will be manned by Arnold de Guzman from the City Planning and Development Office and Renato Cada from the City Public Employment Service Office.

The city has also assigned about 8% of the schools in it to have polling precincts for PWDs. It is ‘doing well with its wheelchair-accessible hallways’ and had given IDs for them that come along with two booklets, the Medicine Purchase Slip Booklet and the Grocery Purchase Slip Booklet.

Problem

But those are not enough.

A father of a child with autism had tried to use the PWD ID to buy his son some donuts at J.CO (SM Fairview). However, the cashier told him that the establishment would not honor the ID unless its holder is present himself/herself. The father ended paying the whole amount of the donuts even though it was his signature at the back of the card.

Dr. Eduardo Janeiro, the regional director of the Center for Health Development (CHD) also observed that there is a need to implement a national health program on disability. Psychosocial and behavioral disabilities are not mental disabilities, after all. Those with them are “educationable” as well as those with learning disabilities.

A precise data on the PWD population is also needed, according to Luz Cabauatan, focal person for PWDs of QC-SSDD. It would really do if the government would not just rely on the estimate from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The representative of the deaf community debated that their sector should not be referred to as hearing-impaired because deafness is not a pathological condition. Flerida Labanon, Regional Program Coordinator of the NCDA, called on to increase the efforts in promoting the rights of the PWDs that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) has endorsed.

“PWDs are part of society. They have the same rights as everybody else.” ` Luz Cabauatan

*Or a total of 1% of the 2,751,579 household population in Quezon City.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Travis Kraft