Bill creating regional specialty centers in local hospitals clinches Senate nod
MANILA, Philippines — The proposed creation of specialty centers in local hospitals across the country is a step closer to becoming a law after the Senate on Monday approved the bill on third and final reading.
All 24 senators voted in favor of Senate Bill 2212, which is a priority measure of the Marcos administration.
The proposed law seeks to establish regional branches of the Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and Philippine Cancer Center.
“This measure is a steadfast commitment and collective vision to improve our healthcare system. It demonstrates our commitment to delivering efficient, specialized healthcare to every Filipino,” said Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, who sponsored the bill.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, a co-sponsor of the proposed measure, also hailed its approval in the chamber.
He pointed out this was among his most important campaign promises during the 2022 elections.
“This bill is a shot in the arm of our public health system. To borrow a medical term, it is a major transfusion of resources to government hospitals in the regions, nearer to the sick who need affordable care,” Zubiri said.
He emphasized the need to decentralize specialty centers in government hospitals across the country.
“If the people cannot go to where excellent care is, then the government must bring the excellent medical care to them,” he said.
Zubiri also noted making medical services more accessible outside Metro Manila was among the points raised by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in his first State of the Nation Address.
“The bill closes the gap between the sick and hospitals, both in terms of distance and cost. Not only does it improve care delivery, it lessens the financial trauma of families as well,” Zubiri said.
Under the proposed measure, Department of Health must establish at least one specialty center in every region based on the most prevalent disease and special needs in the area.
The initial priority will be heart, lung, and kidney centers.
The facilities should match the capabilities of national specialty centers in the National Capital Region.
DOH should also ensure that specialty centers in its hospitals have medical specialists and experts that are provided with training and equipment.
“The hospital modernization this bill calls for is an emergency procedure that cannot be postponed,” Zubiri said.
The Senate President also noted if President Marcos signs this measure into law, he must likewise boost its implementation by providing sufficient funding in the next national budget.
“With ample funding, we can end soonest the unfair situation in which state-of-the-art facility is a big city luxury,” he added.
In early May, House of Representatives had approved a counterpart measure – House Bill 7751 or the proposed Department of Health Specialty Centers Act.