Filipinos are vulnerable to health issues at any age. But while the the country has the National Children’s Hospital to address the needs of the young, it does not have a counterpart for the nation’s close to nine million senior citizens.

This, stressed Minority Leader and Manila 6th District Rep. Benny Abante Jr., is the rationale behind House Bill (HB) 3939, a measure the solon filed to convert the National Center for Geriatric Health (NCGH) into the National Geriatric Health and Research Institute (NCGHRI), thereby establishing a fully-operational hospital that will cater to the health needs of the elderly.

“Given how much our senior citizens have contributed to our country, they deserve our care.”

Abante, who on Thursday visited the NCGH in San Miguel, Manila, lamented that at present “the NCGH is just an outpatient department under the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center.”

“Unfortunately, this hospital is not operational because of the absence of a law that allows for its operations.”

According to the lawmaker, who was instrumental in the establishment of the NCGH inaugurated by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2010, “a fully-functional and operational hospital that focuses on geriatric health is given the growing number of senior citizens in our country.”

The legislator pointed out that the latest data from the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) revealed that 8.2% of the country’s 104.9 million citizens––or 8.6 million Filipinos––are of ages 60 years old and older.

“Steps must be taken to improve geriatric health services because healthcare is the top concern of our elderly.”

“By 2030 to 2035, that percentage is expected to hit 14%. Our population is aging, and we must work to develop infrastructure and institute policies that will enable us to properly care for the nation’s elderly,” explained Abante.

“Given how much our senior citizens have contributed to our country, they deserve our care. Benefits like senior citizen discounts and the like are helpful, but we should not stop there. Steps must be taken to improve geriatric health services because healthcare is the top concern of our elderly.”

House Bill 3939, or “The National Center for Geriatric Health and Research Institute Act,” establishes the NCGHRI, a 100-bed hospital that will be attached to the Department of Health (DOH). Under the measure, not less than 40% of the NCGHRI’s hospital beds shall be allocated for indigent patients.

The NCGHRI shall, among others: (1) equip, maintain, administer, and operate an integrated medical institution that specializes in geriatric health services; (2) provide and maintain affordable, quality, and timely hospital care through an efficient health service delivery system that prioritizes the need of the elderly; and (3) coordinate the various efforts and activities of other government agencies and local government units for the purpose of achieving effective approaches to the delivery of geriatric health services.

Funding for the NCGHRI shall be sourced from the DOH under the General Appropriations Act. Aside from these funds, the NCGHRI will also have its own trust fund composed of contributions from taxes, donations, and income from its pay wards. 

Donations to NCGHRI shall be exempt from donor’s tax and will be considered an allowable deduction from the gross income of the donor consistent with the provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997. 

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