The Philippines in Dire Need Of Telemedicine

I visited the Philippines recently (last month) and blog about the state of healthcare informatics and its potential, hence it comes as a pleasant surprise that the lobby for a national telehealth system has already began.

To create a national teleheath system, Senator Joseph Emilio A. Abaya of the first district of the Cavite province stressed the need for the country to have a law pushing for a telemedicine bill that will facilitate collaboration between public and private institutions, and government and non-government offices.

The call was made during the e-Health and Telemedicine 2009 Conference and Exhibition today (9 May) in Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila in Quezon City, where the congressman noted how the rapid development of ICT has provided a window of opportunity for the health sector to expand its reach.

“The Philippines will benefit greatly from telehealth since the ratio of doctors and other health workers to the general population is dismal.”

“According to 2007 data from the National Statistics Office (NSO), there are only 2955 medical doctors in public hospitals; and this is a paltry number in relation to our burgeoning population (90 million), especially in the provincial areas where people rely on government facilities for their health and medical needs,” said Abaya.

For Abaya, deploying telemedicine and electronic medical records in the Philippines translates directly into better rural medical services. “With telemedicine, state of the art medicine as practiced in our best public and private hospitals can then serve the under-served in our most remote areas, using existing broadband networks,” he said.

Telehealth is already running in some provinces in the country through the National Telehealth Centre, and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration included the allocation of US$2 million in the 2009 national budget for telehealth purposes.

“However, the longer-term goal is to establish a synchronised effort to provide the best available health service to the widest range possible by making the healthcare industry work together with the academia and government,” Anadaya said. “Hopefully, a National Telehealth Service System Act will achieve this.”

Things should be looking interesting. 🙂

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