Nation celebrates Elderly Week

Older women and men coming from different barangays in Baguio City march along the central business district on Session Road as they celebrate the Month of the Elderly on October 3.

REITERATING the importance of good health and wellness among older people, Dr. Enrique Tayag, head of the National Epidemiology Center, enjoined 2,000 elderly in a “dancercise” activity to highlight the kick-off celebration of Elderly Week 2014 in a Pasay City mall.

Older people aged 60 years and older flocked to SM Mall of Asia to celebrate the “Walk for Life” marking Elderly Filipino Week observed every first week of October.

This year’s theme is “Ang Nakatatanda ay Yaman, Katuwang sa Pag-unlad ng Bayan, Pangalagaan Kanilang Kapakanan.”

Those who joined the activity, the Philippine Information Agency said, will get free health services, including bone scanning, random blood-sugar testing, cholesterol testing, free pneumococcal vaccines and medical consultation.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said last year that the country’s older citizens are provided free Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) membership after retirement.

Ona said the move is a token of the government’s appreciation for the elderly by giving them affordable and quality health-care services, as well as sustain their function, self-esteem and life satisfaction.

On September 22 the Senate approved on third and final reading a bill providing mandatory health- insurance coverage to all Filipinos 60 years and above, regardless of their social or economic status.

Once Senate Bill 712 is enacted into law, the elderly need not present a PhilHealth card but only a valid identification card to avail themselves of the benefits. The bill, which was introduced by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and sponsored by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, seeks to provide automatic PhilHealth  coverage to all elderly.

At present, only indigent elderly are entitled to PhilHealth coverage under Republic Act (RA) 7432, as amended by RA 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

Guingona said that, as of June of this year, PhilHealth has covered 3.9 million elderly as lifetime members, dependents, sponsored or indigents.

He said the government would need about P5.2 billion annually to provide the remaining 2.16 million citizens with insurance, but added that the amount was small compared to the hope that would be given to the senior citizens.

Image Credits: Mau Victa