Philippines: Philippine General Hospital to Go Mercury-FreePhilippine Health Insurance Corp. to stop accreditation of non-mercury free hospitals
April 2nd, 2009
Manila - The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) announced at the Bulong Pulungan Media Forum at Sofitel Hotel-Manila that the hospital has "completely banned purchase of mercury devices."
Contrary to common issue raised on the accuracy of mercury-free medical devices, Dr. Rolando Enrique Domingo, Administrator of PGH, said that accuracy is not a problem with regular calibration of the devices. "And there is always a way to calibrate. As a matter of fact, all available devices can be calibrated."
PGH is the premier tertiary hospital in the Philippines with 1,500 beds.
Domingo said that hospitals must not stop at saying non-mercury devices is not accurate, "we need to back it with studies."
Angelita Aguirre of the Philippine Heart Association Women's Council, on the other hand, said that if non-mercurial devices can be accurate, then they are willing to use and promote them.
Gilda Cirila Ramos, San Juan De Dios Hospital Quality Assurance Director, said that health care industry is serious in complying with the Department of Health (DoH) Administrative Order 21 on the gradual phase-out of mercury devices in all hospitals by 2010.
San Juan De Dios is currently 100% mercury thermometer-free and 50% mercury blood pressure devices-free.
Philhealth to go mercury-free
Going mercury-free is obviously the way to go, not just in hospitals.
In PhilHealth's weekly radio program at DZRH, they quoted Dr. Clementine Bautista, Medical Specialist of Standards and Monitoring Department of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) saying that in compliance with AO 21 of the DoH, PhilHealth will no longer accredit hospitals who continue to use mercury devices. Details of the changes in accreditation policy is being finalized.
PhilHealth is the country's government health insurance with 16.46 million members and 68.67 million beneficiaries.
According to Faye Ferrer, HCWH-SEA Program Officer for Mercury, the developments on the mercury phase-out in Philippine hospitals is significant not just in the country but for the rest of Asia.
For the DoH, "this is the 1st time a health department has taken a stand to phase-out mercury in hospitals."
"PhilHealth's move to change its accreditation policy towards a mercury-free safe hospital is also most welcomed," Ferrer said.
"This only shows that AO 21 is not just a one-time-big-time victory. It is a victory, yes. But a victory that gave and continues to give more victories. With this, our future of a 2010 mercury-free Philippines is even brighter."
Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is a global coalition of more than 400 organizations in more than 50 countries working to protect health by reducing pollution in health care sector. For more information, visit www.noharm.org.
Sonia G. Astudillo, Communications Officer, +63 918 9182369, firstname.lastname@example.org
Faye V. Ferrer, Program Officer for Mercury, +63 920 9327151, email@example.com