Marcos considers more specialist hospitals

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday pushed for the establishment of more “specialty hospitals” in other parts of the country to improve health care delivery to Filipinos living in remote rural areas.

At the same time, Marcos assured the public that there would be no more lockdowns despite rising Covid-19 infections.

“Beyond the problems that the pandemic has brought, the need for a stronger health system is obvious. We must bring medical services to the population and not wait for them to come to our hospitals and health care centers. health,” Marcos said in his first State of the Nation address.

The President stressed the importance of having a health care system close to the community, especially in rural areas that lack medical and health personnel.

“We will bring the health system closer to the population so that they no longer have to travel to the centers of their city, province and region. We will set up clinics and rural health units. [RHUs] being visited by doctors, nurses, midwives and medical technicians once a week – it would be easier for the sick to be cared for without having to travel far,” he added.

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Marcos said additional hospitals and health centers would be built where existing medical facilities are too far from the population.

He asked for help from both houses of Congress to pass legislation that will create the nation’s first Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a Vaccination Institute.

“We have benefited a great deal from the large specialty hospitals like the Heart Center, Lung Center, Philippine Children’s Medical Center and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. It is clear that such types of hospitals [should] be built in other parts of the country, not just in the National Capital Region,” Marcos said.

Senate Bill 2505 or the “Philippine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Act” will establish the Centers for Health Statistics, Surveillance and Epidemiology, Health Evidence and Reference Laboratories under the Department of Health. Health.

A counterpart bill in the House of Representatives was approved in July 2021.

In the same speech, Marcos said the provision of competent and effective healthcare professionals is one of the cornerstones of a strong healthcare system.

“We will do more to improve the well-being of our doctors, nurses and other health professionals,” he added.

To ease the financial burden on people who buy drugs for maintenance and other treatments, Marcos said he has entered into dialogues with local and foreign pharmaceutical companies, convincing them to bring their supplies to market so that drug prices are affordable for ordinary people.

“For example, if there are more cheap generic drugs on the market, the prices will be lower due to competition. The Ministry of Trade and Industry will discuss with interested manufacturers of generic drugs that will enter the country,” he said.

The president added that he had ordered the Philippine Competition Commission to push for equality and the removal of cartels between pharmaceutical companies, because an open market would lead to lower drug prices and health benefits. for more Filipinos.

Under Republic Act 9502 or the “Universally Accessible, Affordable, and Quality Medicines Act of 2008,” the government should make medicines more affordable by enforcing provisions that improve market competition, availability, contain costs, improve the behavior of healthcare providers and consumers, and even regulate prices where needed.

Citing that new variants of the coronavirus continue to threaten people’s health, Marcos stressed the importance of balancing public health and safety and the economy, as the country can no longer afford another lockdown.

He said government agencies were coordinating closely with each other to monitor hospital admissions related to Covid-19 and to ensure enough room in the healthcare system for other illnesses.

“The vaccine recall rollout will continue as our overall defense. So even if Covid cases increase, the number of patients requiring hospitalization and dying would be low,” he said.

Along with getting vaccinated and receiving booster doses, Marcos reiterated the importance of following minimum health protocols amid the current pandemic.

National identity cards

Meanwhile, Marcos ordered the Philippine Statistics Authority to issue 30 million national ID cards by the end of 2022 and to reach the target of 92 million by mid-year. next.

He said the national identity card will enable seamless transactions between citizens and national and local governments.

“The national identity card will play an important role in this digital transformation. For citizens to transact seamlessly with the government, their identity must be verifiable,” the president said.

“The goal is to accomplish the issuance of approximately 92 million IDs by mid-2023,” he added.

To make good use of the system, he ordered the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to digitize and harmonize government databases and easily share their data between departments and agencies.

“The DICT has the daunting task of transforming our government into an agile bureaucracy that responds to public needs, provides reliable and robust data to ensure informed decision-making, and enables secure and transparent access to public services,” he said. -he declares.

As much of government and other services move into the digital realm, he noted how universal connectivity, or providing Internet access to Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs), will prevent the widening of a “digital divide” or the creation of inequalities.

New projects include the National Broadband Plan which aims to create a single digital backbone for national and local governments, the Common Towers Program which streamlines the construction of towers and makes them cost effective through tower sharing and connection GIDAs via the “BroadBand ng Project Massa”.

“All relevant digital transport modes should be used. This can be through a combination of terrestrial or submarine fiber optic, wireless technology or even satellite,” Marcos said.

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