Zubiri bats for regional specialty hospitals
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is pushing for the establishment of specialty hospitals in regions outside Metro Manila – similar to the Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, as well as the Philippine Cancer Center – to further enhance and make healthcare services more accessible.
“Being from Mindanao myself, I am very much committed to decentralizing our health care system, and ensuring that we are able to deliver quality health care to every corner of the country,” said Zubiri.
“We’re quite proud that we have developed a very competent medical care system in Bukidnon, with zero-balance billing for indigent patients, long before the zero-balance billing of the Amended Universal Healthcare Act,” he added.
Zubiri is from Bukidnon and began his public service career as a representative of the province’s third Congressional district.
Boosting healthcare in the provinces
“It’s so important that we strengthen our medical care system in our provinces. Sa ngayon kasi, kailangan pang lumuwas ng mga tao mula probinsiya papuntang Maynila, kung magpapagamot sa mga specialty hospitals. Kung hindi naman sila makakaluwas, ang option lang ay magpunta sa private hospitals, na sobrang mahal naman.
“Pero kung wala kang sasakyan o kahit pamasahe para makaluwas ng Maynila, sigurado wala ka ring pang-private hospital. This is the reality for millions of Filipinos, kaya hindi na lang sila nagpapagamot,” Zubiri pointed out.
“At kung kaya namang lumuwas, mahirap naman din magpa-schedule ng treatment sa ating mga specialty hospitals dito sa Maynila—it can take months to get a slot, maliban na lang kung life or death situation na. Hindi naman pwedeng hintayin pa na humantong sa ganyan.”
Bringing healthcare closer to the people
“Imbis na paluwasin natin ang mga tao, dapat dalhin natin ang mga ospital sa kanila. So we have started working with local government units to do this. Last year, we passed the Bacolod City General Hospital Act, to cater to the residents of Bacolod and nearby cities and municipalities. This hospital was also established in an effort to decongest the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, which was the only tertiary hospital in Negros Occidental at the time.
“We are also doing this in Iloilo, with our bill establishing a tertiary hospital for the city,” he added.
“We will be having a hearing on the bill this week, and hopefully we can get it passed this Congress.”
Beyond general hospitals
“But we want to go beyond general hospitals. Siyempre tuloy ang efforts natin na magtayo ng general hospitals, especially for places that don’t have tertiary hospitals yet. But along with these, isusulong rin natin na makapagtayo ng regional specialty hospitals—at the very least, we want to put up counterpart heart, lung, kidney, cancer, and children’s centers in the Visayas and Mindanao and in Northern and Southern Luzon, aside from the ones in Metro Manila.”
“Once we have these regional specialty hospitals, magiging mutually beneficial rin ang mga ito sa ating Doktor Para Sa Bayan Act (RA 11509),” Zubiri further said.
The said law mandates that the state should set up a Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program for medical students in state universities and colleges and private higher education institutions.
Further, the law mandates that every region in the country have at least one Department of Health-run hospital.
“Our medical scholars can take their internships in these specialty hospitals, and in this way, we will be strengthening our medical schools, and also strengthening our hospitals.”
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