By Henrylito D. Tacio
In these days of crass materialism, getting what modern technology can offer has become everyone’s most important goal. As a result, good health is often overlooked and undervalued until one becomes ill. The recent pandemic and other global health crises have finally made people realize the importance of good health.
What most people fail to grasp is that health is wealth indeed. That was what American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed out in 1860. Harvard and health expert David E. Bloom echoed the same concern when he said that health is the foundation to building a good healthy life.
“Good health is a crown on the head of a well person that only a sick person can see,” pointed out Rohit Sharma. And there’s this good reminder from A.J. Materi: “So many spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.”
You are what you do, eat, think, and believe. It’s you yourself who know if there is something unusual with your body. If you think something is wrong, then consult your doctor immediately. Don’t wait for it to become worse or even worst.
And that is what Central Lab (CL) is trying to do. CL is an ambulatory multispecialty diagnostics clinic committed to serving the people of Davao and the whole of Mindanao. Among its objectives is to provide out-patients “promotive and preventive treatments” and “address illnesses at the primary stage.”
“(These are) our focus so that we can prevent complications and expensive out-of-pocket spending for our beloved Filipinos,” said Dr. Roy B. Ferrer, former acting head of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC) and founding president of Central Lab.
CL came into existence in 2010, and its clinics and diagnostics were located at the FTC Towers in Mount Apo Street. Since then, the group behind CL has thought of constructing its own building. In November 2015, they found a place along Quirino Street and had a groundbreaking. Former President Rodrigo R. Duterte, then the city mayor, graced the occasion.
Last December 8, Central Lab Tower was finally launched with ex-president Duterte as its distinguished guest. Duterte’s presence during the program was equally important as he was the father of Universal Health Care in the country.
Duterte signed Republic Act 11223, which guarantees all Filipinos equitable access to quality and affordable healthcare goods and services and instill health consciousness among them.
“When we focus on the primary stage of treatment, we avoid expensive medications and procedures and be truly of service to our marginalized sectors,” said Dr. Ferrer in his speech during the launching. “Eventually, we also hope to reach those geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas. By helping them address health needs and alleviate their conditions at an earlier stage, our constituents become able and productive in the communities where they come from.”
Dr. Ferrer, a former Assistant Secretary of the health department and Internist and Diabetologist considered it a sustainable program “as it will result in better health care to our marginalized and vulnerable communities” whose outcome would be better and stronger Dabawenyos and Filipinos.
To make it available to Filipinos, CL is committed to partnering with the Department of Health (DOH), the PHIC, and all Lingap and Malasakit Centers so that it could serve Filipinos with preventive health care at the primary stage. It is a true example of a public-private partnership in health service whose goal is to serve the vulnerable sector.
“Let’s aspire to help our brothers and sisters who are poor,” Dr. Ferrer stressed. “All of us need to help those who have struggled with their illnesses and address their health needs. This is our vision. This is our duty and commitment as medical frontliners!”
As CL addresses disease at earlier stages, it is also envisioning of “equipping our facilities with ambulatory equipment and out-patient services,” which would result for their patients “less complications or debilitating, incapacitating and dreaded diseases.”
The people behind CL are the following: Dr. Roy Barcinas, Internist and Cardiologist, President and Chief Executive Officer; Dr. Jeanette Ybiernas, Internist/Nephrologist, Chief Operations Officer; Dr. Jessica Ortiga, Radiologist, Nuclear Medicine, Chief Finance Officer; Dr. Leo Ong, Pathologist, and Past President and CEO; Dr. Meldi Anuta, Internist and Neurologist, Corporate Secretary; and Dr. Jessie Orcasitas, Internal Medicine and Pulmonologist.
Both Dr. Ferrer and Dr. Orcasitas are Board of Directors.
Among those who delivered inspirational messages during the launching were Dr. Annabelle Yumang, Davao Regional Director of the Department of Health; Atty. Harvey L. Carcedo, Regional PHIC Vice-President for Davao; and Dr. Marjorie Culas, the City Health Officer.
To end, the statement from British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill is apt: “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.”