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PGH, EAMC get funding boost

Philippine General Hospital
Philippine General Hospital

SENATOR Sonny Angara on Saturday said the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) was given an additional P1.54 billion in its budget under the P4.5 trillion General Appropriations Act for 2021 to ensure that indigent patients would get free medical services for the entire year.

As chairman of the Committee on Finance, Angara pushed for the increase in the budget of the PGH, which is under the University of the Philippines System, in recognition of the vital role that the facility provides to the poor and to every other patient in need of quality medical attention, especially now that the country is battling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

As one of the country’s biggest modern government tertiary hospitals, PGH services over 600,000 patients annually and is the only national referral center for tertiary care, which is why Angara said it “needs a significant amount of financial support to cater to all those who are sick or need specialized care but could not afford to go to a private hospital.”

The additional budget for the PGH would also result in the accommodation of more patients who need to undergo heart surgery.

“Heart diseases continue to be one of the leading causes of death among Filipinos and as such there are more people who need heart surgery. We are constantly looking for ways to capacitate our government hospitals to accommodate more patients with heart ailments and save lives,” Angara said.

Currently, the PGH is able to perform heart surgery on around 50 patients annually at an average cost of P170,000 each or P8.5 million a year.

With the intervention introduced by Angara, the PGH would be able to perform life-saving heart surgeries on as many as 200 patients for 2021.

Under the 2021 budget of the PGH, Angara noted that the hospital would also be able to undertake construction of a multi-specialty facility that will cater to patients who require specialists on renal care, psychology, dermatology, neuroscience and advance laboratory services.

PGH would also be able to start construction of its microbial bank that will provide further support to the hospital’s research and development activities.

Angara said the 2021 budget would also provide funding support for the implementation of Republic Act No. 11358 or the National Vision Screening Act.

RA 11358, of which Angara is the principal author, provides for a National Vision Screening Program (NVSP) covering all kindergarten pupils entering the school system at ages 5 or 6 in order to detect errors of refraction and amblyopia or lazy eye.

The NVSP is spearheaded by the UP-Philippine Eye Research Institute, the Department of Health and the Department of Education.

Another government hospital that received additional funding for 2021 is the East Avenue Medical Center to support its operations.

Angara said the 2021 budget of the EAMC would pave the way for the construction of its radiation center where cancer patients would be able to get specialized care using the linear accelerator of the hospital.

Some P37 million was provided for the establishment of a molecular diagnostic laboratory to allow the EAMC to conduct reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for COVID-19.

Another P124 million was provided for the purchase of laboratory network commodities.

Upon the request of the EAMC, Angara said funding was provided for the purchase of an additional 20 dialysis machines to augment the existing 15 it is using currently.

“All of these interventions are consistent with one of the thrusts of the 2021 GAA, which is to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. We must strengthen our country’s health system so that it will be able to handle the current and future health crises better,” Angara said.