The Philippines is losing its professional boxers, not because they're not fit to compete but for lack of resources and support to get the mandatory medical tests required to be licensed professionals. The Department of Health (DOH) is stepping in to help keep the country's reputation of having among the best pugilists in the world.

In particular, it will now make health check-up procedures, that includes costly CT scans and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), free for professional boxers. Essentially, this means boxers no longer need to pay for these procedures in public hospitals.

Many of the boxers that make up the national pool are from poor provinces and have little to no financial means to support their training and participation in foreign boxing matches. They rely on managers, sponsors, and generous benefactors but not all expenses are covered including getting medical clearance based on mandatory procedures. Traveling to Metro Manila where most tests are available already entails costs, which many can hardly afford.

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said she will release a memorandum to notify all public hospitals to formalize the department’s new policy.

“The DOH expresses its solidarity with you as you bring together boxing aficionados and stakeholders from all over the country as part of your continuing efforts to develop and uplift the interest in the sport of professional boxing in the Philippines,” said the secretary.

The announcement came after the Health chief attended the 3-day 3rd Boxing Convention of the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

Boxers aiming to enter professional games need medical check-up results to earn a license from GAB. A boxer’s manager might pay Php 5,000 for a CT Scan, and Php 15,000 for an MRI.

“This is a very good news in boxing because this is what the stakeholders have been asking for,” GAB chairman Abraham Kahlil “Baham” Mitra was quoted as saying.

Livestrong, a health resource, noted that boxers could incur both minor and major injuries. Minor injuries include cuts and those that affect the hands, while major injuries include fractured ribs, eye injuries and internal bleeding.

Relatedly, a study in Deutsches Aezteblatt International, noted that “boxing is a risky business for the brain.”

The researchers from the Technical University Munich indicated that “knock-out” is the most relevant acute consequence. Boxers are also in danger of substantial risk for injuries in the head, heart, and skeleton. Boxers may suffer from impaired hearing, nausea, unstable gait, and forgetfulness, and cognitive deficits.

There is also a type of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, called dementia pugilistica, a neurodegenerative disease that has dementia-like properties. It may affect boxers, wrestlers and other athletes who suffered concussions. MIMS

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