Where’s the P9-billion hospital budget? – Hontiveros
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday urged the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the Department of Health (DOH) to account for the P9-billion fund allotted for makeshift hospitals and isolation facilities, following reports that hospitals have been overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.
She lamented accounts that family members helplessly watched their loved ones die, sometimes under the heat of the sun, while waiting to be admitted to hospitals that could no longer admit patients.
“Has the P9 billion been depleted, so much so that patients from Metro Manila have spilled over to hospitals in the provinces? Our hospitals are now so full that even tents have been converted into emergency rooms,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros recalled that the P9-billion allocation under the Bayanihan to Recover As One law was supposed to go to setting up of “temporary but humane and fully equipped” makeshift hospitals.
“Too many of our countrymen need medical attention and it is so unjust that they are so close, and yet so far. With all the projections made about the number of cases, the agencies could have worked double time,” she said.
She said the P9-billion funding for “temporary treatment and monitoring facilities” and isolation facilities should now be flagged as “urgent expenditure” while the country’s hospitals overflow.
Hontiveros also urged the IATF and the DOH to reinforce and upgrade their One Hospital Command Center (OHCC), which is a hotline meant to refer patients to hospitals that still have bed capacity.
The OHCC, however, has been “unreachable” because of the supposed “basic setup” of its system, the senator said.
“People are running from city to city while experiencing an emergency because the OHCC cannot be reached. The OHCC could have easily harnessed the capabilities of our world-class BPOs (business process outsourcing centers),” she said.
“Filipinos answer the phones when the world calls. We don’t deserve these busy signals,” Hontiveros added.
“With the billions in funding we have available, that is nothing but another lazy copout. Every phone call they do or do not pick up can spell the difference between life and death,” she said.
“We have known for many months that COVID-19 variants, if left uncontained, could overwhelm our hospitals. Why didn’t we prepare for the worst?” she asked.
Hontiveros also said that the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. could accredit additional facilities so that the operating cost becomes reimbursable.
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