Mindanao solons seek conversion of Basilan hospital into ‘COVID-ready’ center

Published October 15, 2021, 5:50 PM

by Manila Bulletin

Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman and Anak Mindanao Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan filed House Bill No. 10382 which seeks to convert the Basilan General Hospital (BGH) into a tertiary or Level 3 hospital that is equipped to treat serious illnesses such as COVID-19.

“Oras na para makapaghatid tayo ng moderno, dekalidad at kumpletong serbisyong pangkalusugan sa ating mga kababayan sa Basilan, lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya kung saan mahalaga ang malapit na pagamutan para sa mga maysakit (This is the time to deliver a modern, quality and complete health service for our fellow citizens in Basilan especially in this time of pandemic where we need a hospital for the sick),” said Hataman, who is one of the Deputy Speakers in the House of Representatives.

“Marami tayong nakakalungkot na karanasan kung saan ang marami sa ating mga kababayan sa Basilan ang binabawian ng buhay habang nasa bangka o lantsa papunta sa mas malaki at mas magandang pagamutan tulad ng Zamboanga City Medical Center (We have so many sad experiences where many of our fellow citizens in Basilan have died in a banca or ferry boat while going to a much better hospital like the Zamboanga City Medical Center),” added Hataman, who also served as representative of the Anak Mindanao Partylist from 2001 to 2010.

“Kung ang focus naman ng pamahalaan ay palakasin ang ating mga ospital, isinusulong namin na ma-upgrade na ang BGH para hindi na bumibiyahe pa ang mga taga-Basilan sa malayo para lamang magpagamot, lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya (If the focus of the government is to bolster our hospitals, we will push for an upgrade of the BGH so that the people of Basilan will no longer have to travel far to be treated especially in this time of pandemic).” Hataman added that BGH’s 25-bed capacity was supposed to increase to 100 beds after converting the hospital into a tertiary institution under Republic Act 8543. The said law was passed in the 10th Congress in 1998 but this was not implemented until now.

In filing HB 10382, Hataman and Sangcopan seek to convert BGH into the Basilan Medical Center (BMC) under the supervision and control of the Department of Health (DOH), and increase its bed capacity from 25 to 500 over a two-year period from the enactment of the measure.

BGH is currently a Level 1 hospital, the most basic of its kind. In Basilan, there are only six hospitals – four in Isabela City and two in Lamitan City – and all of them are Level 1 hospitals.

“With this measure, we endeavor to bring quality healthcare services closer not just to the Basileños but also to the whole of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi region as part of further strengthening our frontlines against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hataman and Sangcopan said in their statement about HB 10382.

Level 1 hospitals are only equipped to treat patients who need minor care. This kind of hospital doesn’t have Intensive care units (ICUs) and no capacity to care for severe diseases like COVID-19. Level 2 hospitals, on the other hand, have ICUs and specialist doctors.

Level 3 hospitals are equipped with ICUs and are capable of managing infectious cases. It also has training programs for doctors, rehabilitation, and high-level specialty intervention such as dialysis treatment.

The bill also seeks to increase the medical manpower of BGH according to bed capacity, consistent with the requirements of modern medical services, equipment and technology.

“The BMC is envisioned as a premier hospital with modern facilities and state-of-the-art medical equipment and technology providing comprehensive, quality, and affordable service through its highly skilled and competent healthcare professionals and staff,” the two MIndanao lawmakers said. (Melvin Sarangay)