By Hannah Torregoza
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri urged the government on Sunday to construct more hospitals to address the lack of facilities for patients, most especially those who are suffering dengue.
Zubiri noted that dengue cases have now soared to 250,000 with the Visayan region topping the list of dengue hotspots.
The senator noted that doctors and hospital directors have been forced to convert gyms and basketball courts into dengue wards.
“This will be a scenario repeated over and over with other diseases, if we go business as usual. We have to build more hospitals,” said Zubiri.
Last August, the Department of Health (DOH) declared a national dengue epidemic following the national dengue alert in July as cases rapidly increased in public and private hospitals.
Dengue cases soared to 115,986 for the January-July 2019 period which is 109 percent higher than last year in the same period.
DOH officials claim that dengue cases reported are mostly in Metro Manila but, Western Visayas has the most number of cases with 42,694 and 186 deaths.
Other places with recorded high dengue cases include Calabarzon (35,136 cases, 112 deaths); Northern Mindanao (18,799 cases, 69 deaths); Zamboanga Peninsula (17,529 cases, 93 deaths); and, Eastern Visayas (17,107 cases, 52 deaths).
“We face three more months of virulent cases since dengue strikes most from May to November. Literal na patung-patong ang mga pasyente ng dengue sa mga ospital,” Zubiri lamented.
” Sa Region 6 ay napakaraming pasyente ng dengue at hirap umagapay ang mga doktor at nars dahil kulang na kulang ang mga pasilidad kahit na basic bed,” he added.
Zubiri noted that while everyone is aware of the dangers of dengue, many still hesitate to go to the hospital early enough.
“They have to scrape around for transportation and out of pocket expenses. Rural health units and 20,045 barangay health centers are just walking distance but because these lack doctors, nurses and medicines, many are forced to seek treatment in faraway Manila,” he said.
“Even if we don’t face a dengue epidemic, we have to ramp up our public health facilities. The country has a dismal bed to population ratio of 1:1,000. Our target to improve to 1:800 ratio will set us at par only with Southeast Asian countries. It is still a low target,” added the senator.
Zubiri vowed he would propose to increase the health facilities budget of the DOH so more tertiary hospitals can be built.
He said a bigger fund is also needed to modernize the existing provincial hospitals and setting up specialty hospitals with modern blood bank facilities in all regions.
“The war against dengue could be over in December but the normal demand for health services by our countrymen especially the poor need to be addressed proactively,” Zubiri stressed.