Hospital-bed gap

March 19, 2019

Who else has better judgment to decide on the matter?

When it comes to health matters, issues, and concerns, decisions are better left in the hands of experts and professionals in the field of medicine and public health.

Politics or political forces must never be allowed to intervene or supplant professional medical decisions because they impact on the health and wellbeing of citizens.

And so we agree with and support an advocacy of a lawmaker in granting health authorities autonomy in decision-making on matters of provision of medical equipment and facilities for patients of public hospitals.

Reelectionist Senator Sonny Angara stressed the need to upgrade the facilities and increase the bed capacity of government hospitals under the Department of Health (DoH) in anticipation of the influx of patients due to the impending implementation of the landmark universal health care (UHC) law.

"To accommodate more patients, government hospitals would need additional beds for increased admissions with the expected influx of new people into the health care system as a result of the UHC law," said Angara, one of the authors of Republic Act 11223, which grants health coverage for all Filipinos.

Angara said the gap in hospital bed requirement could be addressed if the DoH would be given the authority to increase the bed capacity of all government hospitals under its supervision, as proposed in Senate Bill 1682 he had filed.

Under the present set-up, the department can only increase the bed capacity of DoH hospitals and upgrade their service capability through legislation, and this worries Angara because it limits access to medical and health services that every Filipino patient rightfully deserves.

"The DoH has the capacity and expertise to assess gaps in service delivery," Angara pointed out. "By putting these government hospitals under the jurisdiction of the DOH, which manages these hospitals in the first place, shall increase the efficiency in the delivery of health services to sustain the increasing demands of patients."

Angara made the proposal while in Leyte province, which is home to the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC), a 500-bed capacity Level III DoH hospital.

There is a pending bill in the House of Representatives seeking to upgrade EVRMC, rename it to Eastern Visayas Medical Center, hire more medical staff, improve its services and facilities, and increase its bed capacity to 1,500.

Currently there are 70 DoH-retained public hospitals nationwide, of which 53 are general hospitals, 14 specialty hospitals, two infirmaries and one psychiatric facility which complement the devolved district, provincial and private hospitals in providing health care services.