Senator Sonny Angara is pushing for the establishment of hospitals within state universities and colleges (SUC) as a way to help fortify the country’s health system.
When the country experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, the entire nation was confronted with the reality that there were not enough hospital beds to cater to the patients and that more doctors and other medical personnel are needed to treat them.
Based on a recent study conducted by the University of the Philippines, the country has an average of 3.7 doctors for every 10,000 members of the population.
This is way below the recommendation of the World Health Organization of 10 doctors for every 10,000 population and only the National Capital Region (NCR) was able to meet this ratio.
For other areas such as Region IV-B, the ratio was only 1.8 to 10,000 while in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, it was even lower at 0.8 to 10,000.
Based on data from the Health Human Resource Development Bureau of the Department of Health, there are 860,000 medical professionals registered in the country, but only 189,000 are actually serving in either public or private institutions.
The same UP study also noted the deficiencies in the hospital bed to population ratio.
There are only 6.1 beds for every 10,000 Filipinos on average, with the NCR once again having the highest at 13.5. For Region IV-B, the ratio is 1 hospital bed per 10,000 population.
“The reality that six out of 10 Filipinos die without seeing a medical professional is very alarming. After seeing the data, it explains why our healthcare system was overwhelmed when we were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Angara said.
“We need to strengthen our healthcare system and two of the initial steps that we can take is to produce more doctors and nurses and to increase the number of hospitals that will serve our people,” he added.
Angara has filed Senate Bill 1850 or the Healthcare Facility Augmentation Act, which seeks to establish one hospital in every SUC that offers a medical degree.
Each of these hospitals will have a bed capacity of not less than 50 beds within the grounds of the SUCs.
“Apart from increasing our hospital bed capacity, the construction of these SUC hospitals will also serve as the training ground for the medical students of the SUCs just like what UP-PGH has long been doing. Hindi na sila kailangan pa lumayo sa sarili nilang bakod para makakuha ng experience na kailangan para maging doktor at nars,” Angara said.
Under the bill, the graduates of the medical degree programs in the concerned SUCs who availed of a government scholarship program shall be required to render their return service in the hospital of the SUC from which they graduate from.
A total of nine SUCs are offering medical degrees: University of Northern Philippines, Mariano Marcos State University, University of the Philippines- Leyte, Cagayan State University, Mindanao State University- General Santos, Bicol University, West Visayas State University, Mindanao State University- Marawi, and University of the Philippines- Manila.
On the other hand, there are 45 SUCs that offer BS nursing courses.
Angara said he would like to see more SUCs offering medical courses so that students, who want to pursue a career in medicine, would have a greater opportunity to do so wherever they are situated.
The nine SUCs with medical degrees are situated in eight regions, posing a major hindrance to the students, not situated in those regions, who may want to enroll in SUCs and pursue a medical degree.
Angara has filed Senate Resolution 528, which seeks to look into the financial requirement needed to establish public medical schools in every region of the country,
“SUCs, as they are funded by the national government and are deemed the most accessible higher educational institution to the general public, should take up the cudgels of ensuring that their own regions would have enough medical manpower to be ready for existing and emerging health services needs of the country,” Angara said in filing the resolution.
A separate resolution was filed by Angara to look into the financial requirement to achieve the desired ratio of healthcare workers to the population.
In filing Senate Resolution 529, Angara said that the inquiry is intended to ensure that all practicing healthcare workers in the country will not only be employed, but also utilized and compensated competitively.
“As we further improve our healthcare system especially with the soon-to-be fully implemented Universal Health Care Law, there is an urgent need for us to utilize what many consider to be one of our best resource—our healthcare workers, hence it is only vital that the government examine how we can fully utilize and appreciate their value to the country by first determining the needed cost to provide a competitive compensation to these healthcare workers in the long run,” Angara said.