Solons seek better health care system in rural areasBy Karen Boncocan
MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers on Thursday urged the government to improve the facilities of regional and provincial hospitals.
House Assistant Majority Leader and Davao City Representative Karlo Alexei Nograles and Western Samar Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento said there was an urgent need to review and improve the country’s public healthcare system, which they said seemed to be centralized in Metro Manila.
While it was necessary to allot more funds for hospitals in Metro Manila because of the volume of patients they treat, Sarmiento said it would be cost-effective for those from the provinces to have access to the necessary facilities and treatments in regional and provincial hospitals.
Improving facilities of regional and provincial hospitals Manila could even address the issue of overcrowding in government hospitals in the metro, Nograles explained.
Sarmiento agreed as he noted that people from Visayas and Mindanao were forced to seek to medical attention in Metro Manila, which receives the biggest slice of health care funds.
Some of those who travel to the metropolis expecting quality healthcare “would even end up being rejected once they get to a government hospital… (since) they do not know the process in these government hospitals,” Sarmiento said.
Citing the case of a patient who was forced to transfer to a private hospital due to cumbersome and discriminating practices at the Philippine General Hospital, the lawmaker then urged the hospitals’ management to review their processes of admitting patients and “teach their staff to treat people right.”
For his part, Nograles urged the Department of Health (DOH) to focus in the modernization of provincial and regional hospitals especially in Visayas and Mindanao, saying “poor patients from the provinces are hard up looking for money just for fare going to Manila. We have to bring public health services closer to our people.”
There was also a need, Nograles said, to review the current organizational structure of public health institutions and upgrade the salary scale of government doctors and health workers nationwide.