SENATOR and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go pushed for the improvement of government hospitals and health care services to Filipinos as he presided over the committee approval of House Bills (HB) Nos. 1799, 1477, 831, 2444, 5871 and 5870, and Senate Bill (SB) No. 640 during a Senate public hearing conducted by his committee jointly with the Committee on Finance.
In his opening statement, Go mentioned that he has personally seen the need to improve the country’s health facilities during his frequent visits to government hospitals, saying “Nakakalungkot po na kulang ang ating mga pasilidad at equipment para tugunan ang pangangailangang medikal ng mga Pilipino.”
Go then expressed his empathy for Filipino patients, adding that their situation urged him to prioritize the passage of Republic Act (RA) 11463 or Malasakit Center Act of 2019.
“Sa aking paglilibot po sa mga pampublikong ospital, kitang kita ang kaawa-awang kalagayan ng ating mga kababayan na may sakit,” Go said.
“Kaya nga po nauna na nating naisabatas ang Republic Act 11463 o Malasakit Centers Act para siguruhin na makatulong talaga ang gobyerno na bawasan ang bayarin nila sa ospital,” he added.
Considered as a landmark piece of legislation, Malasakit Center Act of 2019 mandates the establishment of Malasakit Centers in 73 hospitals that are run by the Department of Health (DOH) all over the country and in the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.
The Malasakit Center, intended to be a one-stop shop, consolidates the financial and medical assistance that patients may apply for from four government agencies.
The senator also cited data from DOH reflecting the dire need of government hospitals to increase bed capacity.
“The country has a one is to 1,083 bed-to-population ratio. This is beyond the recommended ideal target ratio of one is to 1,000,” Go declared, adding that the government needs additional 131,250 beds to reach its target.
“Currently, we have 88,394 beds or 67 percent of the target. In 2018, almost 65% of public hospitals were overcrowded,” he added.
Go also mentioned the timeliness of the hearing given the current Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation affecting several countries worldwide, including the Philippines.
“In light of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the readiness of our government hospitals to provide quality, available and efficient health services was highlighted,” Go stated.
“It is just timely that we discuss today measures that are aimed towards the improvement of our government hospitals,” he added.
In his opening statement, the senator also emphasized “I also want to take this opportunity to remind the DOH that they must ensure the availability of isolation rooms in our hospitals, especially during public health emergencies. I am also set to file a bill mandating the establishment of quarantine facilities in every region as a standard precaution that we should take to prevent the spread of any infectious disease.”
The bills taken up and approved by the Senate Committee on Health for plenary deliberations include:
• HB 1799 - Renaming the Talisay District Hospital in Talisay City, Province of Cebu, into The Cebu South Medical Center;
• HB 1477 - Upgrading the Caraga Regional Hospital in Surigao City into a Tertiary Level Hospital, Increasing its Bed Capacity from One Hundred Fifty (150) to Five Hundred (500) Beds;
• HB 831 and SB 640 - Increasing the Bed Capacity of Bicol Medical Center in Naga City from Five Hundred (500) Beds to One Thousand (1000) Beds;
• HB 2444 – Establishing the Bicol Women’s and Children’s Hospital
• HB 5871 - Upgrading the Maria L. Eleazar District Hospital in the Municipality of Tagkawayan, Province of Quezon into a Level III General Hospital; and
• HB 5870 - Establishing the Senate President Neptali A. Gonzales General Hospital in Mandaluyong City.
Ending the discussions, Go acknowledged the need for the government to improve its health facilities.
“Indeed, we need to improve the capacity and capability of our health facilities. At times like this, we are reminded that the government should always ensure that our hospitals receive much needed upgrade and modernization,” he said.
The senator has also been steadfast in pushing for better health care services in the country. In his previous statements, the Senator said, “Ibigay natin sa Pilipino ang mabilis, maayos at maaasahang serbisyo, lalo na pagdating sa pangangailang pangkalusugan.”
“As I have said many times, pera nila ito, ibalik sa kanila sa pamamagitan ng mabilis, maayos, at maaasahang serbisyo mula sa gobyernong may malasakit,” he added.