DAVAO City Councilor and committee on health chair Mary Joselle Villafuerte wants the 18th City Council to work together to urge Congress to lift value-added tax (VAT) on all life-saving and essential medicines.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), life-saving and essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population and are intended to be available at all times in adequate amounts in the appropriate dosage forms.
“We are happy that VAT has been lifted on medicines which are used to treat high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and increased cholesterol level,” Villafuerte said during her privilege speech during Tuesday’s session.
“We are thankful for this good news from the government but we should not stop there. Although we can see that our government has lofty visions on health,” she added.
She also said that the council of the city should urge the National Government’s tax expert to study the WHO health action international project on medicine prices and availability policy brief.
Meanwhile, Villafuerte called on City Council members to advocate for a healthy tax strategy for the constituents to adopt a better health seeing behavior.
“[The constituents] may adhere to healthy lifestyle, take their more affordable medicines, maybe more lives will be saved,” she said, also warning that some so-called supplemental medicines which are marketed as cure could eventually lead to extreme cases and wrong expectations.
“The main problem in the country is mainly the poor health-seeking behavior coupled with lack of healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities,” Villafuerte said.
Dabawenyos are accordingly more willing to wait for free medical outreach with free services and medicines than see a physician or dentist, an implication of costly medical and health services which Villafuerte said should be addressed.