In line with his advocacy to provide better quality and more accessible medical and health care services for all Filipinos nationwide, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has filed a legislative measure to help improve the capacity and service capabilities of public hospitals in responding to the needs of the people.
Go seeks to authorize the Department of Health (DOH) to set and approve the bed capacity and service capability of the 73 DOH-retained hospitals in different parts of the country.
Senate Bill No. 1226, or the proposed DOH Hospital Bed Capacity and Service Capability Rationalization Act of 2019, aims to “expedite the process for improving the capacity and capability” of the hospitals, as Go stated in the explanatory note of the bill.
“Under current regulations, a DOH hospital can only increase its bed capacity and improve its service capability through legislation,” Go said.
He further noted that there should be a more efficient way of enhancing capabilities of public hospitals and, at the same time, empowering the DOH to fulfill its mandate of improving healthcare in the country.
SB 1226 requires the DOH to “provide Congress, through the Committee on Health of the House of Representatives and Committee on Health and Demography of the Senate, an annual report of hospitals with approved bed capacities, along with the necessary funding requirements.”
The report will be the basis of Congress in including the funding requirements of the hospitals in the annual General Appropriations Act.
SB 1226 also obliges the DOH to “develop the Philippine Health Facility Development Plan (PHFDP) to guide the modernization and development plans of all government health facilities, and in order to access capital outlay investment through the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of the DOH and other national government capital outlay investment mechanisms.”
The bill further directs the Secretary of Health to “include in the Department’s programs the funding requirements for the adjustment in bed capacity and service capability of each DOH hospital in accordance with the PHFDP and the hospital’s modernization and development plan.”
Go said he filed the bill because Republic Act No. 11223, otherwise known as the Universal Health Care Law, mandates “a people-oriented approach for the delivery of health services that is centered on people’s needs and well-being.”
He noted that DOH hospitals “often (serve) patients beyond their authorized bed capacities” and “are further constrained by the lack of adequate staffing, maintenance and operating resources,” resulting in “longer waiting times for patients and delays in their treatment.”
He also mentioned the 2017 PHFDP, which indicated that the ratio of general hospital beds to the population was 1:1,142. Go said the figure exceeds the ideal ratio of 1:1,000.
As of 2017, the Philippines has 1,161 licensed hospitals, 405 of which are owned by the government and 73 of which are retained by DOH.
In his visits to public hospitals around the country, Go has observed the need to further enhance these institutions which are lacking basic necessities, such as beds, equipment and even funding to adequately address the medical needs of the community.
As part of his health agenda during the campaign when he ran as senator in 2019, Go has proposed to provide additional funding to public hospitals to increase their bed capacity and improve equipment.
In his first six months as senator, Go has filed several measures to further improve the medical and health care services of the government, such as the Barangay Health Workers Act, Emergency Medical Services Systems (EMSS) Act, Advanced Nursing Education Act, Bill Expanding the Coverage of the Mandatory Basic Immunization Program and the Anti-Prank Callers Act that seeks to prohibit malicious and improper use of telecommunications devices on emergency hotlines.
The Malasakit Center Act of 2019, one of Go’s priority bills, has recently been passed into law. Pioneered by the senator when he was still Special Assistant to the President, Go shared that all DOH-run hospitals will now get their own Malasakit Center with the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 11463 which institutionalizes these centers.
The senator also emphasized that making various medical and health care services of the government more accessible and affordable for the people is the government’s way of giving back the money invested by Filipinos through taxes.