To provide access to highly specialized medical care and rapidly respond to the threat of noncommunicable diseases in the country, ANAKALUSUGAN Party-list Representative Ray Florence Reyes pushed for the decentralization of specialty hospitals and establish them in the regions.
“While we can no longer remain reactive, our regional health systems must continue to ably respond to specific organ diseases and continuing health challenges in the rural areas,” the lawmaker said as he filed House Bill No. 3134 or the “Regional Specialty Hospitals Act,” which aims to create branches of the Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), Lung Center of the Philippines, among other specialty hospitals, in different regions of the country.
The establishment of these branches will take into consideration the prevalent illnesses in the area.
“International and local data has shown that many Filipinos die from noncommunicable diseases that could have been addressed and eliminated in their early stages. Death could have been prevented only if there was the presence of specialty hospital in areas other than in Metro Manila — where not many could afford to travel to and from,” Rep. Reyes stated.
“This bill will ensure that special medical services are brought and readily available to rural families, rather than them spending more of their savings to avail it only in Metro Manila.”
The bill aims to build one specialty hospital in Northern Luzon, Southern Luzon, Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and Southern Mindanao. Other than functioning as extended medical help for various noncommunicable diseases, these hospitals will also be engaged in research and information dissemination. It will also have tax exemptions and privileges like the current specialty institutions. According to the measure filed in the Lower House, the Department of Health (DOH), in consultation with the Medical Director or Chief of Hospital of existing specialty hospitals, will spearhead the operations and its establishment.
Rep. Reyes cited that poverty incidence in the country remains a hindrance for Filipinos in prioritizing their health. An article published in Acta Medica Philippina, enumerated that Filipino households only spend 2.7% or around PhP 6,500 per year on their health expenses. In addition, low-income households tend to fall prey to catastrophic health expenditures, a phenomenon that occurs when a family allocates more than 40% of its income for health expenses when faced with conditions requiring more expensive treatment.
“This bill will ensure that special medical services are brought and readily available to rural families, rather than them spending more of their savings to avail it only in Metro Manila,” Rep. Reyes penned.