Specialty hospitals outside NCR backed

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go expressed support for President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s plan to establish more medical specialty centers nationwide so that Filipinos from the provinces need not travel to the National Capital Region to access tertiary health services.

“It’s not just in Quezon City that people have lung disease. It’s not just Metro Manila that has heart disease. People with kidney disease are not the only ones in Luzon,” Go said during a Senate public hearing on 11 October.

“That’s why during the time of former president Rodrigo Duterte, many people came to us not only to get treatment, they asked for fares to travel because the specialty hospitals that can treat them are here,” he added.

Existing specialty hospitals include the Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.

“While we are strengthening the various public hospitals and putting Super Health Centers in strategic locations, one of the things we should focus on is how to bring our specialty hospitals closer to our countrymen,” said Go, who is chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

He lamented that many Filipinos worry about transportation and accommodation expenses in Manila to get treatment for serious illnesses.

“It’s really hard to be poor, so let’s help our countrymen,” he added.

The Department of Health suggested putting up specialty centers in selected DoH hospitals for cost efficiency, instead of establishing new hospitals.

Go cited the example of the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City which has its own cancer and heart centers.

He urged authorities to study the viability of whether it would be best to establish new specialty hospitals in various regions or simply enhance existing public hospitals to be able to have specialty hubs similar to what SPMC has.

“Let’s add the likes of the Southern Philippines Medical Center that will also have its own Heart Center, or should we establish another branch of the Heart Center, NKTI, in Luzon, in the Visayas or Mindanao, here in upper Luzon, especially in the southern part of the country where there are no heart enters. That’s what we should talk about now,” he said in Filipino.

Go then said he is pleased that President Ferdinand Marcos. Jr. is prioritizing efforts to improve Filipinos’ access to specialty hospitals, saying, “He announced in his first State of the Nation Address that this administration intends to bring these kinds of centers closer to the people.”

He also noted that one of the priorities of the Committee on Health and Demography is capacitating existing health facilities.

During the 18th Congress, Go successfully pushed for the enactment of 69 laws that sought to increase the bed capacities and upgrade the capabilities of select hospitals as well as establish new medical facilities in various provinces throughout the country.

He initiated the establishment of Super Health Centers in strategic areas to be able to improve access to primary care and basic medical services, and Republic Act 11223, or the “Universal Health Care Act” that seeks to ensure that all Filipinos are guaranteed equitable access to quality and affordable health care goods and services.

“My point here is that our poor countrymen are very important — those who do not have access, who do not have the financial capability to pay for hospital services should benefit from this plan to add specialty hospitals,” he added.

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