Local hospital bills sponsored by Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go were approved on second reading with only minor amendments during the Senate regular session on March 3, 2020.
The bills which hurdled second reading on the Senate floor include:
– House Bills (HB) 1477 or “An Act Increasing the Bed Capacity of the Caraga Regional Hospital in Barangay Washington, Surigao City, Surigao del Norte from One Hundred Fifty (150) to Five Hundred (500) Beds, and Appropriating Funds Therefor”;
– HB 5871 or “An Act Upgrading the Maria L. Eleazar District Hospital in the Municipality of Tagkawayan, Province of Quezon into a Level III General Hospital to be known as the Maria L. Eleazar General Hospital Under the Direct Supervision and Control of the Department of Health, and Appropriating Funds Therefor”;
– HB 1799 or “An Act Upgrading the Talisay District Hospital in Talisay City, Province of Cebu, into a Medical Center to be known as the Cebu South Medical Center, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 7799, and Appropriating Funds Therefor”; and
– Senate Bill (SB) No. 640 or “An Act Increasing the Bed Capacity of Bicol Medical Center from Five Hundred (500) Beds to One Thousand (1,000) Beds, Upgrading its Service Facilities and Professional Health Care Services, Authorizing the Increase of its Medical Workforce Complement, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No. 8053, and Appropriating Funds Therefor”.
No senator registered to interpellate on the proposed measures.
Go, Senate Committee on Health chairman has been vocal about the growing need of the country to improve its hospital facilities and augment their bed capacity.
In a committee public hearing on February 12, Go said he has personally seen the need to improve the country’s health facilities during his frequent visits to government hospitals.
“Nakakalungkot po na kulang ang ating mga pasilidad at equipment para tugunan ang pangangailangang medikal ng mga Pilipino (It is saddening that we lack the facilities and equipment to provide the medical needs of Filipinos),” he said.
He also cited data from the Department of Health (DOH) which further justify the need to improve public hospitals.
“The country has a one-is-to-1,083 bed-to-population ratio. This is beyond the recommended ideal target ratio of one-is-to-1,000,” Go said, adding that the government needs additional 131,250 beds to reach its target.
“Currently, we have 88,394 beds or 67 percent of the target. In 2018, almost 65 percent of public hospitals were overcrowded,” he added.
Go also noted the timeliness of the measures given the current coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) situation affecting several countries worldwide, including the Philippines.
“In light of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the readiness of our government hospitals to provide quality, available and efficient health services was highlighted,” Go said.
“It is just timely that we discuss today measures that are aimed towards the improvement of our government hospitals,” he added.
Known as an advocate of improved access to health care, Go has authored and supported measures in his first year as a senator to accomplish this undertaking.
In July last year, he filed the landmark “Malasakit Center Act of 2019” which mandates the establishment of Malasakit Centers in 73 hospitals that are run by DOH all over the country and in the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, ensuring easier access to government medical and financial assistance to Filipinos.
In his previous statements, Go expressed his commitment to ensuring better health services for Filipinos.
“Ibigay natin sa Pilipino ang mabilis, maayos at maaasahang serbisyo, lalo na pagdating sa pangangailang pangkalusugan (Let’s give Filipinos fast, adequate and reliable service especially their health requirements),” he said.
“As I have said many times, pera nila ito, ibalik sa kanila sa pamamagitan ng mabilis, maayos, at maaasahang serbisyo mula sa gobyernong may malasakit (this is their money, return it via fast, adequate and reliable service from the government with compassion),” he added.