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Why Manila council took P360M from local hospitals’ budget

/ 12:10 AM December 26, 2016

The Manila City council has approved the transfer of around P360 million in hospital funds to the city health department for the purchase and distribution of maintenance drugs to residents and for a more effective handling of less serious medical problems that don’t require hospitalization.

According to 6th District Councilor Casimiro Sison, the body agreed to remove P59,856,650 from the submitted budget of each of the city’s six public hospitals and give it to the local health department, which had come up with a program that would channel more funds to the 59 community health centers across the city.

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The fund reallocation is expected to strengthen the health centers’ capability to handle less serious illnesses and provide the maintenance drugs directly to patients, especially senior citizens, said Sison, the council’s majority floor leader.

Dr. Benjamin Yson, city health department chief, further explained: “Our health centers are the ones that promote wellness in the communities, meaning [what they do] is more of a prevention campaign. Hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, these cases should be handled in the health centers.”

Ease pressure on hospitals

Sison said the transfer of the funds was also meant to “relieve the pressure on the six public hospitals whose outpatient departments (OPDs) have been continuously overwhelmed by a large number of patients requiring continuous medications.”

He was referring to Sta. Ana Hospital, Ospital ng Tondo, Ospital ng Sampaloc, Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center, Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center, and Justice Jose Abad Santos General Hospital.

According to Dra. Regina Bagsic, the overall coordinator of the six hospitals, Gat Andres Bonifacio, for example, admitted 3,525 patients and accepted 23,721 in the out-patient department over the last six months, numbers that exceeded the hospital’s maximum capacity.

At Ospital ng Tondo, there were 3,645 admissions and more than 29,000 cases at its OPD during the same period, she said.

Overall, 16,598 patients were served and treated in the six city hospitals during the same period, excluding 141,474 others treated at their respective OPDs, Bagsic said.

“So what can they do? They just cannot reject patients in the OPD. Their funds that are meant for inpatients are used, dissipated. They go to the outpatients,” Sison said.

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The councilor denies allegations earlier made by a colleague that the money slashed from the hospital budgets would be diverted to hire more casual employees.

The allegations were made by 3rd District Councilor Bernie Ang, a member of the minority bloc, who Sison said never attended the council deliberations on the city government’s 2017 budget.

Sison maintained that all six hospitals had agreed to the budget transfer.

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