SENATOR and Senate Committee on Health chair Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go sponsored the passage of several local hospital bills before the Senate floor on Monday as his push to improve the access of Filipinos to quality health care services in the country continues.
In his speech, Go cited the World Health Organization’s (WHO) previous statements regarding the important role of hospitals in the implementation of a universal health care measure.
“According to the World Health Organization, hospitals are an essential element of Universal Health Coverage. They must be able to respond efficiently to population health needs,” Go said.
“They must also have the capacity and capability to cater to the influx of patients who have entrusted their well-being to our health care system,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed last year Republic Act (RA) No. 11223 or the “Universal Health Care (UHC) Act” which presses for the continuous improvement in government’s health services.
Under the law, Filipinos will be automatically enrolled in the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP). As a result, Filipinos can avail themselves of primary health care services even without PhilHealth identification cards.
Go also mentioned in his speech the threat posed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as a crucial factor for the need to improve the country’s hospitals.
“As the world faces a global threat with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the readiness of our government hospitals to provide quality, available and efficient health services is of paramount importance,” said Go.
“We have always reminded the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure the preparedness of our government hospitals, especially during public health emergencies like this. They have promised to do their part but they continue to appeal for Congress to help them, especially in terms of the lack of facilities and hospital beds in our hospitals,” he added.
Go was referring to the data reported by the DOH in 2018 which states that “almost 65% of our public hospitals were overcrowded.”
Presently, the Philippines has a one-to-1,083 bed-to-population ratio, which is beyond the recommended ideal target ratio of one-to-1,000.
To reach the country’s target, Go said that it needs “a total of 131,250 beds but presently, we only have 88,394 beds or 67 percent out of the total target.”
“To sum it up, we are short of more than 40,000 hospital beds all over the country and this figure is only expected to increase even more as the health care requirements of our people expand and as the population of our country grows,” Go explained, detailing his personal anecdotes of visiting several hospitals all over the country and witnessing the need to improve their facilities.
“I have personally seen the need to improve our health facilities and to increase the number of hospital beds during my visits to our government hospitals all over the country. And I can confirm the truth in these figures,” Go said, emphasizing the unfortunate situation many of the country’s hospitals continue to face.
Go said, “Sa aking pagbisita sa mga ospital sa iba’t ibang sulok ng ating bansa, nakita ko po ang nakakaawang sitwasyon ng ating mga kababayan na may sakit. Kahit puno na nga ang ospital, at wala nang kwarto o kamang mahigaan, wala ho silang ibang magawa kundi ang sumiksik.”
“Minsan pinagsasama-sama pa ang ilang mga pasyente sa isang kwarto o kaya naman minsan pati sa corridor ng ospital may nakaratay na pasyente,” he added.
Go lamented this less than ideal situation in public hospitals, saying, “Having patients in close proximity to each other and having them lie in halls or corridors is not only unhygienic and unhealthy, it is also very cruel and inhumane to our patients and their families.”
“They do not deserve this. Pumunta sila sa ospital para magpa-galing, hindi para maperwisyo at lalong magkasakit,” he said.
Go, then, urged his fellow senators to support the measures which press for the improvement and provision of better facilities to government hospitals.
“It is our duty as legislators to enact measures that would help address the lack of appropriate facilities, hospital beds and equipment in our government hospitals,” Go said.
“The improvement of our health facilities is necessary for us to effectively combat the diseases and successfully achieve our goal of Universal Health Care in our country,” he added.
Enumerating the list of the hospitals the measures aim to upgrade, Go said, “As the Chairperson of the Committee on Health and Demography, I am sponsoring today measures that have the intention to increase the bed capacity and upgrade the capabilities of our hospitals.”