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Solons bat for Samar Medical Center bill

Six leaders of the House of Representatives, five of them from the Visayas, on Thursday appealed to the Senate leadership to prioritize the passage of the bill creating the Samar Island Medical Center in Calbayog, Samar. 

They said the bill’s enactment will the medical needs of the people in the country’s third largest island, especially now with the serious threat of contagious diseases like the dreaded coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19). 

Tingog party-list Rep Yedda Marie K. Romualdez, House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez, Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, Northern Samar Paul Ruiz Daza, Northern Samar Rep. Jose Ong, Jr., and Parañaque City Rep. Eric Olivarez, principal authors of House Bill (HB) 8195 or the creation of the Samar Island Medical Center, issued the call after the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the measure on third and final reading with an overwhelming 200 votes. 

“We appeal to the Senate to expedite the passage of this measure (Samar Island Medical Center). We are confident that the Senate is one with our goal to pass this bill into law. An effective and comprehensive healthcare system is needed in Samar to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” Romualdez said.

“We must improve our system and continue working towards accessible healthcare for all,” Rep. Yedda, the chairperson of the House Committee on Welfare of Children, said, adding that the counterpart measure is now pending before the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.

Rep. Yedda said the creation of the Samar Island Medical Center was initiated by Tingog party-list group and one of her priorities this 18th Congress. 

Sarmiento, chair of the House Committee on Transportation, said the creation of the Samar Island Medical Center will be a huge boost to the province’s healthcare system. 

He underscored the importance to establish a tertiary government hospital to address the urgent medical needs of Samarnons. 

“This is a very crucial piece of legislation for a better delivery of healthcare system in Samar. Our constituents will benefit from the creation of the hospital which is an essential part of the health system development in Region VIII,” Sarmiento said. 

“If ever this would be given to us, it’s going to be a big help. Rest assured that the help coming from the national government would be truly valued by the Samarnons. And we want to contribute as well to the development of this country,” Sarmiento added.  

Under the bill, a tertiary hospital under the control, supervision, and management of the Department of Health (DoH) in the first-class city of Calbayog, Samar will be erected and named the Samar Island Medical Center 

Reps. Yedda and Martin also welcomed the passage on third and final reading Wednesday of HB 8196 filed by Samar Rep. Sharee Ann Tan, which seeks to increase the bed capacity of the Samar Provincial Hospital in Catbalogan City from 100 to 220 beds. 

“The approved bill of Congresswoman Tan is another good opportunity to further the healthcare delivery system in Samar and will strengthen the province’s response to the pandemic,” the Romualdez couple said. 

Meanwhile, the Romualdezes, Sarmiento, Daza, Ong and Olivarez thanked the House leadership led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco for passing the measure creating the Samar Island Medical Center. 

The island of Samar is the third largest island in the country and is also home to three provinces--Northern Samar, (Western) Samar, and Eastern Samar--and to a population of more than two million residents. 

However, there is not a single tertiary government hospital on the island. 

“Patients and their families have to travel four to five hours from Northern Samar, three to four hours from Eastern Samar, and two to three hours from Samar just to get to the nearest government tertiary hospital located in Tacloban (Leyte). With these three provinces already having one of the highest poverty incidence in the country, the availability of accessible and affordable hospital care is one of its most pressing needs,” Rep. Yedda said. 

She also lamented the absence of a single government tertiary hospital in the island. 

Earlier, Department of Health Region VIII Director Minerva Molon strongly backed the bill, calling it “laudable in intent and purpose.” 

“The prospective beneficiaries for the Samar Island Medical Center will extend to the three provinces of Western Samar, Northern Samar,

and Eastern Samar, including the cities of Catbalogan and Borongan,” Molon told the House Committee on Health during the panel deliberations. Moreover, the proposed creation of hospital will help improve the lopsided doctor to patient ratio on the island, which according to Molon stands at 1 to 10,337. 

She said the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended a ratio of 1 to 1,000. 

At present, Yedda Marie Romualdez said there are 51 government-owned and 27 privately-owned hospitals in Eastern Visayas. 

There are only two retained hospitals of the Department of Health – the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City and the Schistosomiasis Research Hospital in Palo, Leyte, the lady lawmaker said. 

The rest of the government hospitals are provincial and district hospitals and infirmaries owned and managed by the local government units, according to her. 

Level 3 or tertiary government hospitals are the largest types of hospitals and have a wider range of medical and surgical capacities compared to Level 1 or 2 hospital. 

They can provide more comprehensive patient care and can handle the more serious cases. 

Topics: House of Representatives , Samar Island Medical Center , Calbayog , Samar , coronavirus disease-19 , COVID-19
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