THE GOVERNMENT has released nearly a billion pesos this year to hire more nurses and midwives as well as upgrade the country’s health facilities, President Benigno Aquino III said in a speech at the University last Nov. 29.

“To address the dismal state of some of our country’s health facilities … P742 million has recently been released to improve the infrastructure, procure new equipment, and support the research and treatment programs of three of our government specialty hospitals,” Aquino said during the opening dinner of the 10th Congress of the International Society of Dacryology and Dry Eye (ISD & DE) at the Quadricentennial Pavilion.

The government also released P294 million to hire an additional 11,500 nurses and 1,000 midwives.

“This will better ensure that government hospitals and health facilities in every municipality, every city, and every province will have healthcare professionals who can attend to the needs of our countrymen,” Aquino said.

He said the government was “concerned” with “freeing society from the diseases that had previously crippled it,” including poverty and vulnerability, corruption and dishonesty, social inequality, and lack of access to social services.

The triennial event, organized by Dr. Reynaldo Javate, chairman of the UST Hospital Ophthalmology Department, gathered ophthalmologists and scientists from around the world to update them on the latest developments in the field of dacryology and dry eye.

The three-day congress, held in Asia for the first time, began the following day at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, focusing on basic and clinical scientific research on diagnosis and management of various eye problems.

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“In recognition of the fact that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in middle and low-income countries, our Philippine Health Insurance Corp. shoulders the cost of cataract surgery for its members belonging to the Sponsored Program, along with some other surgical procedures,” Aquino said.

The event also featured symposia on systemic conditions as well as orbital diseases and oculoplastic surgery, and subspecialty sessions on cataract, refractive surgery, glaucoma, retina, and pediatric ophthalmology. The congress coincided with the annual meeting of the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology.

Also present in the event were Health Secretary Enrique Ona; Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., Rector of UST; Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines and UST Vice-Chancellor Fr. Quirico Pedregosa, Jr., O.P.; and other University officials.

The event gathered more than 500 participants from 26 countries, including the United States, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Singapore, Japan, the Netherlands, India, Switzerland, Greece, Austria, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Estonia, Russia, Italy, Germany, Australia, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Canada, Korea, and Sweden.

Founded in 1982, the ISD & DE is a scientific society considered as a pioneer in the research and diffusion of knowledge on the tear glands. Daphne J. Magturo

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