What first comes to mind when we think about the City of Makati? For some, it would be the Ayala Center, the modern commercial and retail hub that encloses both the Glorietta and Greenbelt Malls, as well as the Ayala Museum and the beautiful pocket parks in the area. For others, Makati City reminds them of the Makati Medical Center, one of the top tertiary hospitals in the country. Others will always remember Makati as synonymous to the stock exchange, and as a central business district where wealth is traded and grown.
Multi-faceted, progressive, tourist-friendly and cosmopolitan – the City of Makati is all of that and more. Besides being a place for investment, relaxation and recreation, Makati City is also known as a model city when it comes to providing health and wellness to residents and visitors alike. So it is not surprising that the city has recently come out with the Official Makati Health and Wellness Travel Map.
Pioneer, leader in universal healthcare
Makati City is the very first, and still the leading LGU in the entire country when it comes to providing a citywide universal healthcare program for its residents. In addition to that, Makati also has 100 percent membership in PhilHealth as well. When it comes to healthcare for its residents and visitors, no other city in the Philippines comes close.
Makati’s programs for health and social services have received many awards from the national government and private organizations. Most notable of these is the award given to the Makati Health Program, known popularly as the “Yellow Card” program. It has been recognized internationally through the Dubai International “Best Practices” Award, for “outstanding contributions towards improving the environment.”
Makati’s journey towards first world universal health care for its residents began back in 1998, when former Department of Health Secretary Jimmy Galvez-Tan, M.D., was tapped by then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay to assess the state of Makati’s health services and recommend improvements. Galvez-Tan was very honest about his assessment. “I told the Mayor that while Makati was a center of business, with the stock exchange doing business there and the world-class hotels in the area, it lagged behind healthcare. Essentially, Makati then had a third world healthcare system,” he said>
The Mayor took Galvez-Tan’s assessment seriously and set about implementing a city health program that has become, after more than 10 years, a model for the Philippines and other countries. “Makati today spends more per capita on health care than any other city in the country. In fact, Makati City spends an amount on healthcare that, when converted to dollars per capita, is equal to that of more developed nations in Asia,” said Galvez-Tan. Based on 2010 figures, Galvez-Tan computed that Makati spends US$70 per capita on its residents. This is more than what the Philippines spends per capita on healthcare, which is at about US$43.
The very first public health issue that Makati City addressed was the ban on smoking, back in year 2002. “Smoking, of course, was a very big public health concern. Makati was the first city in the country to enforce a city-wide ban on smoking in public places. At first, people objected and were afraid that it would be bad for business. They said that bars and restaurants and clubs would lose their customers.” “For a while, customers did stop coming. But later on there were even more people who started coming to these establishments. That’s because non-smokers outnumber smokers. Even the Peninsula lobby started filling up with even more guests despite the smoking ban,” he said.
Another public health concern that Makati City addressed was cardio-vascular illness. According to Galvez-Tan, the city provides a 30 percent discount on laboratory tests for cardio-vascular patients and a 50 percent discount on heart disease medicines. “These medicines are very effective and the city buys them in bulk for a very low price. Makati residents can avail of these medicines for as low as, say, P2.50 per pill,” he said.
Makati has also set several records when it comes to public healthcare. It has set several records over the years, including zero incidence of leptospirosis cases, zero incidence of rabies cases, and zero cases of preventable maternal deaths. The city also has a subsidized program for helping patients with AIDS and tuberculosis. Makati is known for providing many healthcare and social benefits to its residents, especially children, the elderly, and the differently-abled. For children, these include health benefits; free pre-school and elementary education; modern, air-condition school buildings; computer education classes; free textbooks and school supplies; and cash incentives for honor students. For the elderly, these benefits include health services; monthly cash allowances; and even free birthday cakes and free passes to cinema screenings. The differently-abled also have benefits like free health services; fare discounts in the MRT, LRT, provincial buses and other public transportation; free rehabilitation therapy for indigent differently-abled residents; free movie passes; and many others.
According to Galvez-Tan, Makati’s robust and progressive universal healthcare program makes it the most medical tourism-ready city in the Philippines. “The question of public equity has already been settled in Makati. With its universal healthcare program to all residents, we can say that we are ready to accept medical tourists for treatment because we are already taking care of public health.” “With other cities, perhaps, one can ask, ‘Why are you taking care of foreign patients when your own residents are having health problems?’ No one can say that about Makati. That’s why I’m saying that Makati is the most prepared for medical tourism—beyond just having world-class accommodations and other tourism infrastructure, Makati is already providing world-class healthcare to its own residents,” said Galvez-Tan.
City government support
None of these, of course, would be possible without the support of the city government. Mayor Jun Binay told everyone that his administration is doing all it can to regularly improve the city’s tourism infrastructure as well as its healthcare program. “As you know, all of these health services and social benefits are being funded by the city government through its revenues. The city’s main sources of revenues are City License fees and Real Property Taxes and there’s really little else that we can tap as additional sources.” “So we appreciate the help of our partners in the private sector in developing the city’s tourism and healthcare programs. The new travel map is the first of, hopefully, many more partnerships we will undertake with the stakeholders in the city’s tourism and healthcare sectors,” said the mayor. According to Binay, the Makati Travel Map shows how Makati is not only a center for business, commerce, leisure, and even national and foreign policy-making; and that it is also one of the most developed cities in the country; home to the country’s most advanced, world-class healthcare and wellness facilities .
“The City of Makati is where we can find medical facilities, clinics and wellness centers that are comparable to other developed countries. We are glad to say that quality healthcare for all, both residents and visitors of Makati, is a priority project of the current city administration. This is done through the Makati Health Program,” Binay added.
So come and visit the place where you can now more easily find fun, relaxation, business opportunities, and health and wellness. Experience how you can make it happen—whatever it is that you want to happen—right in the City of Makati.
The City of Makati has established a health referral system for a “seamless delivery of healthcare that promotes smooth integration of preventive, curative, and rehabilitative services so the health of their constituents and clients is not compromised.
Ramps for wheelchairs in buildings and on the streets show the city’s concern for those who are physically-challenged
There are small parks in various areas outside the mall complex, including the verdant and lush Ayala Gardens located at the back of the Philippine Stock Exchange