Tag Archives: PWDs

Healthcare in the Philippines

“We are currently institutionalizing the unified implementation of the “No Balance Billing Policy” through which the government and our private healthcare providers can work out a system that will provide an order of charging of medical expenses.”

A year ago, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law. No hospital shall “request, solicit, demand or accept any deposit” for any medical treatment starting then, and any violator would be punished by either imprisonment, fine, or both. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) were also called upon for the implementation of this law: the first to reimburse the hospital or clinic for the medical costs and transportation services given to poor and indigent patients, while the second to provide medical assistance for the basic emergency care needs of poor and marginalized groups.

Much needs 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. While investments in health have increased over the years, several policy and operational bottlenecks have constrained universal health care for this country.”

But the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAPi) was against it. As soon as the implementing rules and regulations of the law were released, they filed a petition to the Supreme Court to nullify the Act Strengthening the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law by Increasing the Penalties for the Refusal of Hospitals and Medical Clinics to Administer Appropriate Initial Treatment and Support in Emergency or Serious Cases. The penalties1  for health facilities that refuse to take in emergency patients who cannot pay in advance is “unconstitutional,” “unreasonable,” and “amounts to denial of due process.” Directing the PhilHealth and the PCSO to reimburse basic emergency care costs to “poor and indigent patients” is violative of the equal protection clause, too, amounting to involuntary servitude.

“We shall pool all our resources for health services under the [PhilHealth]; institutionalize primary care as a prerequisite to access higher level of healthcare; and supplement human resource gaps of the LGUs through a National Health Workforce Support System.”

So, as of now, the PhilHealth covers Filipinos regardless of their social status. An amount—termed as the “case rate amount”—would be deducted from the member’s total bill, which would include the professional fees of attending physicians, prior to discharge2. Filipinos can also turn to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to get free prescription medicine through its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS) program3.

“These will ensure that every Filipino family gets the appropriate, affordable, and quality health services in appropriate facilities and will be protected from financial burden due to sickness.”

Indigents, government employees, services workers, and those “determined by DSWD social workers” can benefit from the program through referral letters to the department’s partner-drugstores and hospital pharmacies. They must just submit their medical certificate, doctor’s prescription, indigent card, and valid ID to the DSWD Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) located at the Central Office, field offices, and satellite offices in the provinces.

“To this end, I urge the speedy passage of the Universal Health Care Bill authored by Former Representative Harry Roque. Strong political determination, not political ambition, is the guiding light.”

The Universal Health Care bill will automatically include Filipinos into the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). The House of Representatives has already passed its third and final reading on this in September 2017, while the Senate’s counterpart measure is still pending at its committee on health. It will be most beneficial to PWDs and tobacco victims, Emer Rojas, president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) was quoted as saying in a report, since it will ensure that they are especially provided for with their respective healthcare needs.

One of the most important thrusts of this administration’s medium-term development plan is to cover all Filipinos against financial health risks. That is why I have directed concerned agencies to streamline the various sources of financial assistance for people with health-related needs.” ~ Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte 

1The Republic Act No. 10932 further notes imprisonment from four to six years, or a fine from P500,000 to P1,000,000, to directors or officers of hospitals or clinics, or both. The facility’s license to operate will also be revoked after three repeated violations, and a presumption of liability shall arise against the hospital and its employees. 

2 Filipinos must just go to any PhilHealth office to register, fill out two copies of the PhilHealth Member Registration Form (PMRF), submit the PMRF to the human resources department, then await the member data record and PhilHealth ID card from employer. The contributions are shared by the employee and the employer, and could be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually.

Filipino senior citizens can apply as well as those who are unemployed or self-employed. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)—documented or undocumented—can register, too. They only have to pay ₱2,400.00 annually or in two increments (₱1,200 every six months). Members could then have 45 days hospitalization allowance after paying at least 3 months’ worth of premiums within the immediate 6 months of confinement. Nine months’ worth of contributions in the last 12 months is needed, on the other hand, for pregnancies, the new born care package, dialysis, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and selected surgical procedures. The attending physician(s) and the health care institutions (HCI) must also be PhilHealth-accredited.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Rappler

Inclusive Education in the Philippines

It all started with a handbook.

The manual, The Handbook on Policies and Guidelines for Special Education, embodied the general principles of special education in the Philippines. It was discussed by no less than the school administrators in the country, as well as the teachers, persons with disabilities, their parents, professionals and community leaders during the 1987 Orientation Conferences in SPED.

Then three more books were disseminated. They were the Handbook on Educating the Gifted, which could guide the organization of SPED programs; the Livelihood Education Instructional Materials for Children with Special Needs, which could improve instruction on livelihood skills for children with special needs; and the Revised Filipino Braille Code, which could become the resource of teachers and volunteers of in-school and out-of-school blind children.

Six years later, the program Basic Education for All was expanded to meet the basic learning needs of disadvantaged groups including the PWDs. Trainers for the special education program was also organized the following year to form the Regional Special Education Council (RSEC).

All divisions were obliged to organize at least one SPED Center during the SY 1997-1998. Among of the aims was to support PWDs so that they can be integrated in regular schools eventually. All districts were asked to organize SPED programs in schools where there are identified children with special needs, too. They would be assisted by teachers and administrators who have had trainings in SPED.

The salary grades for SPED teachers and principals were revised in Republic Act No. 6758 (An Act Prescribing a Revised Compensation and Position Classification System in the Government and for Other Purposes). Financial subsidies were allotted to 103 SPED schools in October 10, 2008; to 207 in February 11, 2009; to 227 in May 17, 2010; to 43 in December 8, 2010; to 276 in September 2, 2011; to 345 in March 21, 2012; and to 153 in April 10, 2012. Instructional materials were also provided in May 17, 2010; August 24, 2011; and January 10, 2012.

In September 28, 1999, those who were physically handicapped were exempted from taking the National Elementary Achievement Test (NEAT) for the grade school level and the National Secondary Achievement Test (NSAT) for the high school level due to lack of facilities, trained facilitators, and testing aides.

SPED in public schools had been strengthened the following month, too, following a study that there are 2% PWDs in any given population. During the SY 1998-1999, in fact, out of the 12,474,886 total enrollments in public and private schools, an estimated 249,497 were PWDs. Only 60,531 of them were said to be “provided with educational services responding to their potentials,” though.

SPED at the secondary level were strengthened a bit later. Then it took sometime before every SPED-related school personnel were trained by the Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE) through the Special Education (SPED) Division in providing formal education to those with mental retardation, learning disability, hearing impairment, visual impairment, autism, and multiple disabilities.

Still, only 2% of the targeted 2.2 million PWDs in the country would go to school. So in July 6, 2009, the Department of Education (DepED) included in its School Improvement Plan (SIP) an education within an inclusive classroom setting.

More or less 200 SPED Teacher Items were distributed to 17 regions that need the allocation more. Then eight months after, the Advisory Council for the Education of Children and Youth with Disabilities (ACECYD) was organized to provide “the official platform for constructive exchange and action planning.”

The DepEd through the Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE) and the Bureau of Secondary Education (BSE) enumerated in September 13, 2013 what disabilities its program can handle as well as how many PWDs only. These “exceptionalities” include autism, behavior problems, learning disability, multiple handicapped, chronically ill, orthopedically handicapped, developmentally handicapped, speech defective, hearing impairment, visual impairment, and intellectual disability. It had also implemented guidelines for the hearing and visually impaired learners in selected regions and divisions interested with the Alternative Learning System for Persons With Disability (ALS for PWD) Program.

“Engaging the participation of every sector is ensuring the delivery of quality basic education for every Filipino learner. We intend to review and fortify every possible partnership to ensure that, at the end of the day, our learners are enabled to move past the limits of their background and to move toward a life of competence and opportunities.” ~ Leonor Magtolis Briones

Poland

Eight years from now, the country bordered by Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia will be hosting an “event that redefines handball” with the nation of Sweden.

Will the persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Poland be able to participate? How are they being treated there?

Only after the 1978 Census was the Medical Board for Disability and Employment able to legally classify the number of PWDs in Poland. It was totaled to 2, 485, 0011 or 7.1% of the entire population.

Last 2009,  the Association of Friends of Integration together with the Administrative Office of the country organized a competition to find out which building “are best suited” for PWDs. Those that won were the Opera House in Wroclaw, the Town Hall in Dabrowa Gornicza, the Public Library in Koszalin, the Sport and Exhibition Hall in Gdynia, and the Cable Car to Kasprowy Wierch in Zakopane.

Then last May 9, 2013, the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) launched a “crucial component” that would (1) ensure that PWDs are able to participate fully and effectively in society on an equal basis with others and (2) address and assess the needs of PWDs better.

A bill was filed in its Senate last April 18, 2014 “to boost welfare benefits for parents who leave their jobs to care for their disabled children.” The latter will receive $431 by 2016.

Social security in Poland includes insurances in retirement, disability, sickness, and accident. All employees in the country are covered by the compulsory pension and disability pension insurance. They may continue the insurance on a voluntary basis after it expires but not if they already have a title to another form of insurance.

Its surroundings are “user-friendly” to PWDs. Entrances to its establishments are stairless. Doorframes were regulated to be at least 80 cm wide so that a wheelchair can be taken inside a room. All sounds and alarms must be audible, all stairs must be rough, and all doors and signs must be lettered or numbered.

Tourism For All is a website that lists these attractions to PWDs based on the type of restrictions such as wheelchairs, prosthesis, or crutches. Another website does the same thing for the PWDs of the Kaszubian District.

Poland also has activation workshops, physical rehabilitation centres offering spa treatments, forms of active and passive recreation, and group bonding events. The gyms, fitness clubs, swimming pools, and water parks here offer discounts and special assistance. The Polish Association of Disability in Sports has the program “Start,” which aims to organize and develop the common physical culture, sport, the rehabilitation of movement, tourism and recreation for PWDs.

A travel agency in Krakow would organize excursions for PWDs to Europe. Wooden platforms have been laid in the beaches in Wladyslawowo, Cetniewo, Ustka, Sopot and Mielno. In Swinoujscie, Dziwnow, and Pobierowo, the descents to the beach are gentle so that PWDs can still move around.  In Rewa there is a pier for wheelchair users and Gdynia has a playground that includes a sandpit with raised edges and a swing in the form of a basket.

Poland signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012. About 3.8% of the Polish population can work there now.

“Funds for social benefits, especially for the young generation, need to stop being considered a wasted expenditure. This is smart money. If we can improve someone’s health condition, providing for him in the future will be much less expensive. Moreover, if we can educate these children and help them become independent, we will have a good citizen and taxpayer in the future.” ~ Broda-Wysocki

1 Based on The Polish National Census in 1978.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of polcham

THOC2

Judging from how persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Moldova can still study, defend themselves, and live independently, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) reported that the said country ’has made significant strides to further advancing the rights of children and adults with disabilities in the country’. Its education system has become more inclusive and community-based services have been developed.

Many, however, continue to be denied the support they need to be fully included in the Moldovan society. Many processes regarding the educational system and community-based programs are far from complete, too. In particular are the 1,716 children with mental or intellectual impairments that remain in segregated educational institutions. Not all of them are receiving support they need to access inclusive schooling.

About 3,000 to 4,000 Moldovans are ‘stripped of the right to decide for themselves, and are under the control of guardians’. Many were reported to be leaving PWDs in closed institutions against their will, using the disability allowances of the latter, controlling their assets, and prohibiting them from basic socio-legal acts.

The PWD Forum could only hope that the finding of Dr. Raman Sharma from the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute will lessen cases of intellectual disability. Together with some researchers from Europe, he has discovered the “novel gene,” which when mutated, causes intellectual disability in 1 in 50 individuals.

“We have identified four mutations in the THOC2 gene in four families. The defected gene is found in males who have an intellectual disability – females in the families are carriers of the gene mutation but are not affected by the condition. Protein coded by the THOC2 gene is part of a large protein complex that is fundamental for all living human cells and essential for normal development and function,” Dr. Sharma, lead author of the paper, was quoted in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

To date, Dr. Sharma is poised to know more about familial gene mutations.

“But that’s just the first step. Before we can develop a treatment for a condition, we first need to understand what is going on in the body and discover how a specific defected gene causes a particular disease.”

“Advanced genetic technologies have accelerated the discovery of genes responsible for diseases like epilepsy, autism, intellectual disability and other neurological disorders. But the number of genetic conditions in which we have functional understanding of the mutated genes can be counted on two hands.”

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Biology Videos

Shaun Webster: the believer

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) are neither scroungers nor superheroes, a 43-year-old man in Rotherham, South Yorkshire maintains.

His name is Shaun Webster, the international project worker of Change, a human rights organization led by PWDs. He has visited the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Moldova to train health- and social care professionals on ‘de-institutionalisation’, community living, and community-based care.

With a learning disability himself, Webster has called for the closure of long-stay institutions for young people with learning disabilities through Lumos, a children’s charity founded by JK Rowling.

“They’re doing it faster in Europe, building small group homes and getting people into the community, here they’re dragging their feet, still putting money into care homes. Other countries are less scared, ready to work with people with learning disabilities,” Webster was quoted in a report.

Webster also believes that PWDs, which number about to 1.4 in the United Kingdom, should be more visible in communities ‘to challenge the status quo’. Politicians must be engaged, and a political party of PWDs ‘might be an idea to get our voice across to government because we’re the experts in real life.’

To date, Webster would champion ‘the fact that people with learning disabilities can, should, and do have the same “real life” as everyone else, with a job, home and family life’. He had three children with his childhood sweetheart before they separated. He is now a grandfather of two toddlers and lives in a community-based supported housing.

“It’s starting,” he says, “but we need to make it louder … people want to have proper jobs, to live in the community and not be vulnerable or patronised.” ~ Shaun Webster

Video posted with permission from lumoscharity

Turning One!

Preposterous it will sound if The PWD Forum would claim a hand on how the welfare of persons with disabilities (PWDs) throughout the world has improved in the last 12 months.

In my home country, various sectors have realized that the disaster risk reduction and management programs currently in place there should be more responsive.

The PWD Forum has written about how necessary these kinds of plans are in the Philippines since the country is almost always plagued by typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and tsunamis last July 14, 2014. It has 726 readers there.

In the place where I am now, a team has been sent to the United Nations to organize a series of events concerning PWDs and highlight the country’s policies.

The PWD Forum has reported how the United Arab Emirates provides an environment conducive for PWDs like Feras and Wael Al Moubayed last October 28, 2014 as well as Kaltham Obaid Bakheet last April 28, 2015. It has 212 viewers there.

Elsewhere, some corporations have called for “an inclusive society” together with the PWDs. Some educational institutions have taught job skills to them, and some politicians have taken it upon themselves to provide assistive devices.

The PWD Forum has been seen in 43 other countries. Among these are the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, India, Lebanon, Germany, Australia, Japan, Jamaica, Belgium, Singapore, Switzerland, Pakistan, member states of the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Hong Kong, France, Taiwan, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Africa, Jordan, Bhutan, Spain, Indonesia, South Korea, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Turkey, Thailand, Kenya, Bahamas, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Israel, Puerto Rico, Serbia, Austria, Poland, Vietnam, and Moldova.

Early on, The PWD Forum has wanted special education for all. But after sometime, it began to wonder if what it is advocating for is plausible especially in the third-world countries where PWDs are plenty. It has then thought to compromise: just another kind of special education for non-PWDs if they couldn’t be put together with the PWDs!

But Ashish Goyal didn’t learn numbers in a specialized school. Apolinario Mabini was able to study in two prestigious universities in the Philippines and had even set up a private school on his own. The mother of Tatyana McFadden had still enrolled her daughter in various sports activities even though Tatyana was born with spina bifida.

Special education must really be imparted to everyone then. Even the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has thought so. Disability rates are significantly higher among groups with lower educational attainment among its members, which include 14 countries.

Moreover, the United Nations Development Program found out that 80% of the PWDs in the world live in developing countries. People also spend 8 years of their life span living with disabilities. The aim of The PWD Forum from the start should still hold after all.

 “The PWD Forum aims to increase the awareness of the ‘normal’ people—particularly those in governments—to the true situation of people with disabilities (PWDs). It would just be a plus if there would be PWDs and non-PWDs alike who would join the discussions and/or initiate the conversations themselves.”

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Perkins Vision