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PIA Press Release
2009/02/24

National Telehealth Bill to be filed in Congress

Manila (24 February) -- Representative Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya (LP, 1st district Cavite), the co-chair of the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), said that he will file a bill called the National Telehealth Service Act of 2009 to deploy a national telehealth system across the country. He said this during the recently held COMSTE Telehealth Conference at the AIM Conference Center Manila last 19 February.

Telemedicine is a rapidly developing application in clinical medicine where medical information is transferred via a number of technologies like the telephone, the Internet or other networks for the purpose of consulting, and sometimes remote medical procedures or examinations.

Telemedicine may be as simple as two health professionals discussing a case over the telephone as a referral or mentoring call, or as complex as using satellite technology and video-conferencing equipment to conduct a real-time consultation between medical specialists in two different locations. Telemedicine is a general term for the use of communications and information technologies for the delivery of clinical care.

According to Abaya, "this kind of collaboration among those from the ICT and electronics sectors, the health/medical profession, the academe and us in government is what we all need in this very difficult time. We are talking here about the kind of public-private partnership that is sustainable, and which will bring about a new and much better way in delivering health services to the public, especially to the marginalized."

The deployment is a result of the successful pilot of the UP Manila National TeleHealth Center (UPM-NThC) system led by Dr. Alvin Marcelo, which is currently in service between UPM-NThC and its provincial sites in Batanes, Pasay, Marikina, Quezon Province and Capiz, among others. The current UP Manila telehealth system is able to provide basic electronic health record registry via the Community Health Information System (CHITS), audiovisual education to local health workers and professionals through E-learning and video conferencing, and tele-referral and tele-mentoring to Doctors-to-the-Barrios (DTTB) using SMS technology through the Buddyworks Program.

COMSTE Executive Director Gregory Tangonan said that, "Deploying telemedicine and digitized family medical records in the Philippines translates directly into better baranggay medical services and to the improved wellness of our people. State of the art medicine as practiced in our best public and private hospitals can then serve the under-served in our remotest areas, using our broadband networks." Tangonan said that this exciting new thrust will translate into new medical service industries in the Philippines - new low cost medical instruments, medical software services, vastly improved public health information systems and even a medical tourism interface.

More information about the COMSTE can be found at http://www.comste.gov.ph. (COMSTE) [top]

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