Go: Senate keeps pushing for bills that improve public healthcare services

Published March 19, 2022, 9:23 AM

by Mario Casayuran

The Senate continues to deliberate on several bills designed to improve the delivery of public healthcare services, especially in areas where the local communities are constrained by capacity and funds.

Senator Christopher ‘’Bong’’ Go, chairman of the Senate Health and Demography Committee, stressed this as he revealed that there are many hospital bills to be tackled when the Senate resumes plenary session after the May 2022 elections.

The Senate, according to Go, earlier approved on the third and final reading 15 local hospital bills that he shortly before Congress adjourned its session from Feb. 5 to May 22.

“Mayroon pong iba’t ibang mga health-related bills. Marami pang ihi-hear kami next week tulad ng mga local hospital bills (There are more health related bills. We will be hearing more next week such as the local health bills). Iyong iba naman, iyong mga bagong [local government unit at Department of Health-run] hospitals na isinulong ng Lower House, ite-take up namin ‘yan sa Senado (The others are new hospitals that the Lower House is pushing, we will take this up in the Senate) ,” Go said in an interview after a relief operation in San Isidro, Davao Oriental.

“Noong nakaraang budget deliberation, may isinulong ako na mga Super Health Centers (In the past budget deliberation, I have pushed for the Super Health Centers). Parang mas malaki siya sa rural health units, about 500-square meters na building… Para ito sa mga lugar na mga walang provincial hospital (It is bigger than the rural health units, about 500-square meter building…this is for the areas without provincial hospitals),” he added.

The lawmaker from Davao noted that the government currently has nearly P3.6 billion available funds in the 2022 Health Facilities Enhancement Program to construct 305 Super Health Centers. To expand access to affordable and comprehensive medical care, a Super Health Center will be constructed in every region across the country.

The center will offer various services, including laboratory and diagnostic care, pharmaceutical care, birthing units, out-patient services, vaccination services and dental services.

Go also reiterated his appeal for the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 2155, a measure he earlier filed for the establishment of the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP).

The goal of the VIP is to develop vaccines against life-threatening viruses. It will serve as the principal laboratory of the country in providing virology laboratory investigations, research, and technical coordination of the entire network of virology laboratories nationwide

“Dapat handa tayo para hindi tayo mabigla dahil hindi naman natin masabi kung ito na ba ang huling pandemya na darating sa buhay natin (We have to be ready as we cannot tell if this is the last pandemic in our life time. It is better that we are prepared). Mas mabuti na handa tayo. Eh, kung mas mabuti nga magkaroon tayo ng sarili nating bakuna para hindi tayo umaasa sa ibang bansa. Mas mabuti na ‘yun, ‘yung lagi tayong handa (It is also better if we can have our own vaccine so we no longer depend from the other countries. It is better if we are always ready),” Go said.

He, likewise, reiterated his call on the Senate to pass SB 2505 which will create the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bill is the consolidated version of an earlier bill he authored and filed in 2021.

The CDC will be primarily responsible for protecting Filipinos from health threats. To accomplish this, the proposed Center will detect and respond to new and emerging health threats, conduct scientific research, and communicate critical health information to the public.

“Hindi ako titigil na ipaglaban ang mga batas na ito, lalung-lalo na makakatulong ito sa pag-improve ng ating healthcare system (I will not stop from fighting for these laws, especially that these will improve our healthcare system).The more we should invest sa healthcare natin ngayon. Huwag na nating antayin na mangyari sa atin ‘yung nabigla tayo ng Covid-19. Hindi na natin alam at hindi pa natin napaghandaan (The more we should invest now for our healthcare. Let us not wait for another occurrence where we were taken by surprise by C-19. We were caught unaware and we were not ready for it),” Go stressed.

SB 2155 is currently pending in the Committee on Science and Technology while SB 2505 is set for plenary deliberations.