(STAR) By Paolo Romero - President Arroyo released yesterday an additional P100 million to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to further modernize and upgrade its facilities on its 100th year.

During her speech at the presentation of PGH projects, Mrs. Arroyo also thanked Dr. Carmelo Alfiler, the hospital’s director, for saving the life of her son, Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, when he was 12 years old.

“The PGH is 100 years old. What better way to celebrate it than to endow it with P100 million. The P100-million PGH rehabilitation fund was our way of saying a hundred million thanks to the grand old dame of public hospitals,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

She gave Alfiler a P50-million check from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and assured him that another P50 million would be on the way from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) from its lotto proceeds.

“Earmarking gaming income for health has always been a good winning combination,” she said. “We’re infusing funds to PGH from gaming sources because defeating disease should not be a game of chance.”

The President said her giving P100 million to the PGH is a “budgetary contagion that will spread to other hospitals” as she reiterated the replication of heart, lung and kidney centers in the regions.

She said the money should be used for the acquisition of modern equipment so that “those who come to you for succor, to PGH for succor, can acquire a new lease in life.”

The P100 million is on top of the regular assistance given by Pagcor and PCSO to poor patients, she said.

Mrs. Arroyo said while many are aware of how her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, was saved from death by heart surgeon Rommel Cariño, only a few know that Alfiler saved her son’s life 26 years ago.

She said she brought Mikey to Alfiler, a nephrologist, because he was suffocating and was on liquid diet for many days.

Alfiler correctly diagnosed him for nephrotic syndrome and treated him for five years until he was 17 years old and “was totally healed,” she said.

“Everyone was telling me, he was 12 years old, he was even shorter than me at that time, he won’t grow with prednisone (medicine) and this was his growing years, but nonetheless, thank God and thanks to Dr. Alfiler’s expert treatment he got well and he grew enough to be an adult,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

She also urged the doctors present to support the government’s efforts to reduce the prices of medicine by half as she hit the “cartel” of multinational drug companies that keep the prices of drugs high.

“Ninety percent of all medicine are now off patent and yet 90 percent of all medicine sold are still branded and more expensive than the generics. What’s the explanation? A cartel with 70 percent market share controls the marketing channels. Thus the typical consumer or patient is unaware that doctors can, and if asked by the patient will, prescribe cheaper generics that are available in the market and at the same quality, since in the region the high quality of Philippine manufacturing pharmaceuticals is acknowledged,” she said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved