Romualdezes lead forum on improving access to hospitals, health services in Region VIII

February 16, 2020
Martin Romualdez

LAWMAKERS from Eastern Visayas and their chiefs of staff held a consultative brainstorming recently on measures  to establish tertiary hospitals and improve the health services in Region VIII to address the medical needs of the people, including preparations against the spread of contagious diseases like the novel corona virus (COVID-19).

The offices of Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez and House majority leader Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, through Jude Acidere and Maria Isabel Morales-Mañalac, organized the meeting attended by Northern Samar Reps. Paul Daza and Jose “Jun” Ong Jr.; chiefs of staffs of Samar Reps. Edgar Mary Sarmiento and Sharee Ann Tan, and Southern Leyte Rep. Roger Mercado; Region VIII Health Assistant Director Ard Exuperia Sabalbrino, Schistosomiasis Control and Research Hospital Director Dr. Lyn Verona, Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) Director Dr. Salvador Evardone, and others.

“We are hoping to come up with a united and strong position on our health care programs to be presented before the Department of Health,” said Acidre, chief of staff of Rep. Yedda Romualdez, during the meeting held at the North Lounge of the House of Representatives.

“This will help complement the Universal Health Care Act,” Acidre added.
Morales, the deputy chief of staff of Rep. Yedda Romualdez who is the chairperson of the House Committee on the Welfare of Children, said Tingog health agenda is about “accessible and affordable quality healthcare services.”

During the meeting, House Bill (HB) Nos. 1153 and 1152 filed by the Romualdez couple were discussed.

HB No. 1153 seeks to establish a tertiary hospital under the full and direct control, supervision and management of the Department of Health (DoH) to be known as the Samar Island Medical Center located in Calbayog City, Samar.

While HB No. 1152 seeks to convert the Schistosomiasis Control Research Hospital into a general hospital to be known as the Governor Benjamin T. Romualdez General Hospital and increase its bed capacity from 25 to 100, thereby upgrading its medical services and facilities and authorizing the increase of its medical personnel.

Acidre explained that Eastern Visayas faces the lack of adequate hospitals, especially for indigent patients.

“We should push the creation of tertiary hospitals and increased capacity and services for existing tertiary hospitals. Implement and finance a modernization program for primary level hospitals and other healthcare facilities in rural communities. Institutionalize the integration and rationalization of both government and private healthcare institutions into a single service delivery network. Rationalize and expand PhilHealth benefits to include mental and dental coverage,” said Acidre.

He also pushed as part of the legislative agenda of the Romualdez couple the following measures: EVRMC increased bed capacity bill, Schistosomiasis/Benjamin Romualdez General Hospital Bill, Samar Island Medical Center Bill, Conversion of NSPH into the Northern Samar Medical Center, Conversion of SLPH into the Southern Leyte General Hospital, Local Special Health Fund Bill, Mandatory BHW Bill, Rural Hospitals Modernization Bill, and Public-Private Partnership in Healthcare Service Delivery.

The DoH said Eastern Visayas needs an additional 1,500 hospital beds for its 4.2 million population to conform with global standards of one hospital bed per 1,000 people.

According to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Region VIII has a combined hospital bed capacity of 2,700 or 1,500 less than the World Health Organization (WHO) standard for a region with a population of 4.2 million.

The Romualdez couple said their HB No. 1153 will effectively close the gap in Region VIII’s hospital bed capacity, as well as ensure wider access to affordable and quality healthcare services particularly in Samar Island.

They explained that health care services gaps have been blamed as one of the causes of deaths in the region and stressed that easy accessibility to tertiary health care for less fortunate Filipinos from the Island of Samar is deemed urgently necessary.

“For instance, 92 mothers died per 100,000 live births, 40 percent of infant do not survive after birth, and 24 percent of tuberculosis patients succumbed. It is imperative that Samar Island gets its own tertiary hospital to cater to the healthcare needs of the people in the area and free them from the inconvenience of travelling even for hours just to be admitted to hospitals in Tacloban City,” said the Romualdez couple.