For healthier communities

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - August 9, 2018 - 12:00am

During a Bulong Pulungan forum, Ayala Healthcare Holdings Inc. (AC Health) expressed its commitment to bring affordable and accessible health care facilities to serve more families and help develop healthier communities across the country. On its third year of operations, AC Health continues to expand its retail health network, which includes Generika Drugstore, the pioneer in the retail of generic medicines; and FamilyDOC, a 3-in-1 primary care facility with combined services of a clinic, a diagnostics facility and a pharmacy. 

Medical expenses have always been one of our major concerns whenever we get sick. We try to look for cheaper medicines and having drugstores like Generika is already a big help to our kababayans. Generika, with almost 800 stores nationwide, offers access to affordable yet quality generic medicines. More than the savings, which can reach up to 85 percent, Generika customers can also avail of additional in-store services, including free blood pressure checks, computerized medicine guides, and scheduled free consultations. 

Aside from these services, Generika is also keen in reaching more communities nationwide through its series of community events called GabayKalusugan, which promotes the value of preventive health and wellness, and communicates the efficacy of generic medicines in the prevention and cure of certain diseases. It’s a good thing that Generika is pushing for this initiative. 

Easy access to health care facilities is also a major concern for most of us. It’s important to have nearby clinics that families could visit, especially during emergencies. FamilyDOC is now planning to open more clinics and reach more communities in the northern part of Metro Manila, following its expansion in Caloocan, Marikina and Quezon City. It also aims to expand as far north as Valenzuela and Rizal. FamilyDOC currently has a total of 36 clinics, located in Laguna, Cavite, Parañaque, Taguig, Pasig, Pateros, and Las Piñas, and have served more than 135,000 unique patients, to date. 

I’ve also learned that FamilyDOC clinics are now offering new services such as vaccination, 2D echo, and OB sonogram. We usually think that community clinics often provide unsatisfactory services; with incomplete facilities and equipment. But AC Health is proving us wrong, and is taking their role seriously in strengthening its retail health network to keep communities healthy. 

AC Health president and CEO Paolo Borromeo shared that Generika and FamilyDOC are the first touch points of healthcare in the community and serve as the gatekeepers of health. “By making our services more accessible and affordable for our patients, we are contributing to the overall health and wellness of the communities.” 

AC Health is also investing in various health technology solutions through Vigos, its digital arm that develops and invests in new innovative technology. Vigos developed a proprietary electronic medical record system called Vigos EMR, which is being used in all FamilyDOC clinics. This streamlines clinic processes, thus enabling efficiency and ensuring quality of care. 

Technology doesn’t only make things easier, it sure does improve services. The system has a data analytics function that can be used for population health, such as examining the disease trends in a certain location. With the data generated from Vigos EMR, FamilyDOC is able to develop patient-specific products and services. According to AC Health, Vigos is also developing an integrated mobile application called Vigos Care, which can be used to manage one’s corporate and personal records. This will allow users to monitor their medical records, order medicine online, and book an appointment with a doctor, among others. 

AC Health is using technology wisely, doing its best to come up with user-friendly and effective tools that would benefit their customers. And speaking of technology, MedGrocer, an FDA-licensed online pharmacy, offers more convenience to patients through its medicine delivery platform. This is actually an ideal set-up for those who take maintenance medicines, and would be of great help too in times of emergency. AC Health invested in MedGrocer in February 2017. 

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FROM ANOTHER FRONT: PhilHealth estimates that one out of seven or around 5.1 million Filipino children are living with disabilities. Yet there is little information on the prevalence of disabilities among Filipino children. 

 The Situation of Children with Disabilities in the Philippines study, conducted by the Development Bank of the Philippines, addresses this information gap and provides data that will support the development of responsive national programs and services for children with disabilities. 

 Supported by the Australian embassy, UNICEF, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the report underlined that children with disabilities continue to experience barriers to access basic social services. This is compounded by poverty, lack of data, weak governance and discriminatory attitudes related to disability in general.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely, DSWD Acting Secretary Virginia Orogo, and UNICEF Philippines OIC Representative Julia Rees attended the public presentation of the study. 

“Children with disabilities are less likely to attend school, access medical services, or have their voices heard in society. Their disabilities also place them at a higher risk of physical abuse and discrimination, and often exclude them from receiving proper nutrition or humanitarian assistance in emergencies,” Rees said.

UNICEF is working with PhilHealth to develop benefit packages for children with disabilities in the Philippines. It is also helping establish three children with disability hubs in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Ambassador Gorely said, “The embassy is pleased to provide assistance to UNICEF and our Philippine Government partners for this important study that helps everyone understand the lives of children with disability and how we can improve their situation. Disability-inclusive development is a priority of Australia’s Foreign Policy, and underpins our engagement on human rights, development assistance and humanitarian action.”

The study recommends putting in place a comprehensive service framework for children with disabilities and a strong referral system that integrates the different social services. Addressing financial barriers to social services is also important, as is enhancing the disability inclusiveness of health, education, social welfare and transportation services.  

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 Sillimanians in Metro Manila (SIMM) will celebrate the 117th year Founder’s Day of Silliman University, the oldest Christian institution in Asia located in Dumaguete City, at the Heritage Hotel ballroom on  Aug. 11 (Saturday) from 6 p.m.

With the theme, “The Silliman Spirit Lives On,” the evening gathers all Sillimanians in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces to keep the Silliman spirit burning inside every alumnus. Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo of Dumaguete City will deliver the inspirational message.

Another Silliman alumnus, director and talent manager Romm Burlat will host the event, while the popular Philippine Marines Corps Combo will provide the musical entertainment from the 1970s  to the present the whole evening. 

SIMM is the biggest alumni chapter that includes among its members DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, DFA Usec Ernie Abella, GSIS president and general manager Jesus Clint Aranas, Comelec Commissioner Bing Guanzon, GMA-7 VP for regional development Oli Amoroso and your columnist.  Gerry Tan is SIMM president. 

For ticket reservation, text 0927-2517520 or 0908-8634131.

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Since 1908, the UP College of Education has been the torchbearer of the education of students from grade school up to graduate studies. It has also been the center for national teacher education. 

This year, 2018, the UP College of Education is celebrating its 100 years of service to the nation. The UPCE Alumni Association,  through its president, Mercedes Adorio, is inviting all alumni of UP Eduk to attend the homecoming on Sunday, Aug. 19, 2019 at the College of Education, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City. For details call Norma at 02-9293386. Other numbers: UP Trunkline: 9818500 local 4258. Email:

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