Launched by President Gloria Arroyo in 2001, the BnB program is the answer to poor Filipinos’ need for cheap medicine. But here’s the catch: There is not a single BnB outlet in some of the country’s poorest provinces and towns where they are needed most.
As of January 2009, there were 12,341 botikas, a long way from the 427 in 2003. But the program covers only half of the country’s 42,000 barangays and suffers from poor implementation and conflicting priorities from top to bottom. As a result, the BnB program has wasted scarce resources while denying health care services to the poorest areas it was meant to serve.
One example is the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao which, aside from having the least number of hospitals and barangay health centers, has the smallest number of BnB outlets, numbering 78 as of last January. All the BnB outlets in ARMM are in Maguindanao, leaving the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Lanao del Sur and Tawi-tawi without any BnB drugstore. CONTINUE READING