State of health facilities probed

THE House of Representatives will begin this Monday its inquiry into the state funding and performance of hospitals and other health facilities.

The committee on public accounts, chaired by Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor and the committee on health led by Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan are conducting the investigation in aid of legislation.

House Resolution (HR) No. 686 filed by Defensor, who is also a vice chairman of the health committee, prompted the inquiry.

Invited to this morning’s hearing are officials of the Department of Health (DOH), government and private hospitals, and representatives of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines.

In his resolution, Defensor cited a World Health Organization (WHO) study on the “inefficiencies and inequities” of the country’s health care delivery system.

He quoted the study: “The fragmented nature of health financing, devolved structure of service delivery, and mixed public-private health system pose immense challenges to correcting the inefficiencies and monitoring the performance of the Philippine health sector.”

According to the study, as of 2016, there were 90,308 nurses, 40,775 doctors, 43,044 midwives, and 265 medical technologists in the health care sector, and hospitals had more than 90 percent of doctors and nurses.

Two-thirds of hospital beds were in Luzon, including Metro Manila.

Defensor said there is a need to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the state, capacity and performance of health facilities to promote efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of health services.

He said the two committees would also look into the government’s health facilities improvement program, for which Congress has been allocating billions in taxpayers’ money annually since the Aquino administration.

The solon would like to know what the DOH has accomplished with the huge amount allocated for the program, what hospitals have been improved and what new facilities have been built.

He noted that under the previous administration, funds had been spread thin through the construction of barangay health centers costing P1.5 million to P2 million throughout the country.

However, Defensor said many of these centers are now idle because they have no personnel, equipment and even basic medicines and supplies.