Rep. Mark A. Villar said House Bill 5703 also entitles family members or relatives who look after or take care of a critically-ill patient a compassionate care leave benefit of 60 days a year with full pay, whether in public or private employment sector.
Villar said it is heartbreaking and devastating for any family to hear doctors pronounce there is nothing more they can do for the patient.
“But with palliative care, patients and their families can face the prospect of death courageously. More importantly, the patient is afforded the opportunity to die with dignity and comfort,” said Villar.
Under the bill, palliative care and end of life services include but not limited to pain management; support to terminally-ill patients to live as best as possible a comfortable life and prolong as far as practicable, the life span of critically-ill patients through therapies, such as chemotherapy, radiation, and other natural or alternative methods of healing, among others.
The measure directs all government and private hospitals and health centres to provide palliative care and end of life services to all patients with life-threatening illness.
It also mandates provinces, cities and municipalities to jointly establish community-based hospice units and palliative care centres in their respective jurisdiction.
The bill provides that physicians, nurses, midwives, social workers, pharmacists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, private volunteers, caregivers, or members of religious community shall undergo multi-disciplinary education and specialized training with respect to an integrated and coordinated approach towards palliative and end of life care support services.
The proposal establishes the Palliative Trust Fund exclusively for the financial support and assistance for the medical needs of indigent patients.
The bill creates the Palliative Care Assistance Board for every province, city or municipality which shall be composed of one representative from the Department of Health (DoH); the Chair of the Committee of Health of the concerned Sanggunian; a representative of the opposition part or parties in the concerned Sanggunian concerned and a representative of the families or family organizations mentioned in Article XV (3) of the Constitution.