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Senators on UP plan to build PGH on Diliman campus: Why not in UPLB?

/ 05:35 PM September 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines—The University of the Philippines is hoping to roll out a public-private partnership project to put up a Philippine General Hospital (PGH) on its Diliman campus by the end of the year to complement the one in Manila, according to UP President Danilo Concepcion.

But senators pressed instead for more government teaching hospitals in other regions, like Southern Luzon, which they said badly needed it more than Quezon City.

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Sen. Cynthia Villar said there were already a lot of hospitals in Quezon City, but there is no public hospital with a medical school in Southern Luzon, despite it being a very big region.

“Why not UP Los Banos?” Villar said.

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“That’s more of a priority than Diliman because there are many hospitals in Diliman,” she added.

Many of the other regions don’t have a government hospital with a medical school as well, she said.

Sen. Sonny Angara backed Villar and said officials of the government panel handling the COVID-19 response also pressed for a teaching hospital in Southern Luzon.

Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also agreed that it was better to have a PGH in UP Los Banos and said it could be offered to the Villar group of companies as a PPP project.

But Villar said running hospitals was not in the line of her family’s companies and said it would be better to offer the deal to the group of businessman Manny Pangilinan

Sen. Joel Villanueva also batted for more government-funded medical schools in other regions, saying that many of those taking the National Medical Admission Test are from areas with no access to affordable medical education.

Concepcion said the proposed PGH Diliman in Quezon City would have 700 beds and would have a College of Medicine and a cancer research center.

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“This is also a good preparation for our next health crisis. If there will be a pandemic again we will be better prepared because of the additional 700-bed hospital that we intend to establish in Diliman,” Concepcion said at a budget hearing in the Senate.

The project would need P9 billion in the initial phase, he said.

According to Concepcion, the National Economic and Development Authority has released P50 million to UP for the feasibility study for the PGH in Diliman.

The feasibility study to check if the project can be undertaken through PPP is expected to be completed this month, he said.

“It will then be rolled out for marketing, and if there will be interest for PPP, we will roll it out before the end of the year,“ he said.

He also said there was a need for another general hospital in Quezon City because most of the medical institutions in the city are specialist hospitals.

The only general hospital is East Avenue Medical Center.

Responding to senators’ concerns, Concepcion said he agreed that there was a need for a PGH in Los Banos and added that this was already being studied.

The facilities to complement the planned general hospital in Southern Luzon are being put up, he said.

UP is also studying the idea of putting up another PGH in Mindanao, he said.

Both are in the drawing board and were expected to be started in the coming years, he added.

Villanueva, also during the budget hearing, asked the Commission on Higher Education (CHed) what it was doing to keep medical education accessible and affordable.

The Senate is hoping to ratify soon a new measure that would institute a program for medical scholarships.

CHed Chair Prospero De Vera said putting up a very good medical program is a big challenge, and that expanding the doctor of medicine program in state universities and colleges would cost nearly P5 billion.

De Vera also said that a university must have a good program that feeds into the medical science program. There must also be a training hospital, he said.

At present, three state universities and colleges are undergoing the process to put up a medical school, he said.

According to him, the initial operating cost of state universities and colleges with ongoing applications to put up medical schools is more than P1 billion.

Increasing the carrying capacity of SUCs with medical programs by 30 percent would cost nearly P1.2 billion while the cost of putting up medical programs in SUCs that could sustain it would be nearly P2.5 billion, he said.

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TAGS: Angara, Diliman, higher education, medical schools, PGH, PPP, Southern Luzon, SUCs, UP, UP Los Baños, Villar
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