WITH all senators present, the Senate on Monday voted unanimously on third and final reading the bill creating Regional Specialty Centers in Department of Health (DOH)-run hospitals, to allow Filipinos across the country access to badly needed specialized medical treatment and ease the congestion in such institutions as the Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney Center and Lung Center of the Philippines.
Senator Bong Go, main sponsor of the measure, took the floor to thank all 24 senators who voted for it, saying it “shows that we work as one in the Senate to make health services accessible to all.”
However, he raised the possibility that its lofty motivation would go to naught if funding is not assured, so he made a special appeal to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri to ensure funding for such regional specialty centers.
Zubiri nodded quickly, saying the regional specialty centers had been “my dream since I came back to the Senate in 2016.”
With the passage of Senate Bill 2212, Go said it was the collective experiences and stories of Filipinos needing medical services that inspired them to make sure they have a “compassionate, accessible” health care system to “meet the needs of every Filipino.”
Go last week sponsored the Committee Report on SB 2212 or the proposed “Regional Specialty Centers Act,” with the version including the proposal of the Health committee vice chair, Sen. Pia Cayetano, which sites the specialty centers in existing tertiary medical institutions of the DOH. Cayetano argued that constructing new regional centers from scratch would be very costly and might go unfunded.
“It is not difficult to recognize the need for specialty centers around the country. But the reality is, it will be very expensive to put up specialty centers on their own. So this bill, which provides for the specialty centers to be within the DOH hospitals, solves a big part of this problem.
It will be much more economical precisely because it will be able to make use of the existing DOH facilities. It is clearly cost-efficient and practical,” Cayetano had said.
Go earlier explained the bill aims to establish specialty centers in select DoH hospitals across the country, with mental health services among the specialties included. Zubiri said his heart bled for thousands of people from the countryside seeking help to gain admission to the Metro Manila-based specialty centers for heart, lung or kidney ailements.
Sen. Go, who is Health committee chairman, recalled that his passion to widen access to medical services had prompted him to push earlier for so-called Malasakit Centers—a one-stop shop of sorts within state hospitals, to allow people to deal with just one office, in order to avail of assistance.
Image credits: Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB