For me, it has brought to the surface two things: journalists are, indeed, some of the most intelligent creatures on earth; and then, hoping against hope that, whatever information is out there now, will be used and factored by our countrymen when we elect our next president in 2016.
Here is how I see it, and I hope someone corrects me if I am wrong. By next year, which is just a good 46 days away, nothing much will be accomplished, as everyone with political ambitions will be hitting the campaign trail in one form or another.
Come to think of it, it might just be happening already with those individuals going from one town to another in the guise of doing their official duties.
Expanded Senior Citizens’ Act
SO, it is admirable, and probably just in the nick of time, that the amendment to the Expanded Senior Citizens’ Act of 2010, or Republic Act 10645, has been passed by Congress and signed into law by President Aquino early last week.
The amendment gives the more than 6.1 million senior citizens in the country access to health benefits given to Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) cardholders.
This means that, for those who are 60 years old and above, all they have to do is present any identification card showing they are, indeed, senior citizens, and they will receive all PhilHealth benefits in hospitals.
Now, that is one piece of good news for all senior citizens in the country. But it is hardly enough for these individuals who have contributed so much to their families, former employers, communities and our country.
Consider this point: the Retirement & Healthcare Coalition pointed out that there are only 140 geriatric doctors in the country. Now, if you were counting, that would mean one doctor for 43,000 senior citizens at least.
Making senior citizens independent
WITH this scenario, the Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE), under the leadership of its Indonesian Executive Director Franciscus Kupang, has come up with a very simple solution.
They are arming the senior citizens of the country to become entirely independent.
The non-governmental organization (NGO), which is receiving funding from donors in Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the US, has presence in strategic locations across the country, from Metro Manila all the way to Agusan del Sur.
I caught up with Kupang at the National Center for Geriatric Health (NCGH) inside the Malacañang complex when they, along with the Sociedad Española de Beneficencia (SEB), were, also last week, holding a weeklong health training of volunteer senior citizens from San Juan, Metro Manila.
Kupang told me that COSE, a partner of Helpage International since 1989, aims to form senior citizens into groups and have them responsible for each other.
COSE holds trainings that target the needs of senior citizens, including livelihood and health programs, emergency and calamity preparedness, and volunteerism.
Kupang said that what they are putting forward is an informal community-based health service for senior citizens that is aligned with local health centers.
For the whole of last week, the senior citizens from old Erap country were given an overview of heath concerns and myths affecting them, effective communication within their group, recognizing and managing common geriatric conditions, and gaining a basic understanding of the privileges for senior citizens.
One of the more interesting activities the senior citizens did was in taking their vital signs, such as blood sugar, monitoring of pain and providing first aid.
Those who were part of the training are expected by COSE to bring what they have learned back to their respective barangays, and then cascade them to other senior citizens there.
At the end of the day, Kupang said they want the senior citizens to add more years to their life and more life into their years.
Kupang said COSE and SEB, after the weeklong training at the NCGH, are both looking forward to doing more projects together. I do hope that they do. From how I see it, these are two NGOs that truly care for senior citizens.
More Filipino than Indonesian
AS for Kupang, he told me that, right now, he is culturally more Filipino than Indonesian.
I was so shocked that he can speak very fluent Tagalog during our conversation.
So, when he told me that he received his college degree in Theology from Mary Hill College and his masters in Community Development from the University of the Philippines, I was not shocked anymore.
What is shocking is the fact that NCGH chief of clinics Dr. Miguel Ramos said they are looking to have senior citizens hold rallies in Batasan Pambansa as a last resort for a legislation to be passed for them to become fully operational, and with an appropriated budget.
Ramos said they are working on a small budget given by the Department of Health. They only have outpatient services with seven full-time doctors and 10 volunteer doctors.
There is now an ongoing campaign to gather 1 million signatures for the NCGH.
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