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Bill creating regional specialty hospitals nationwide reaches Senate plenary

The bill seeking to establish specialty hospitals in every region—a priority measure of the Marcos administration—is now up for plenary debates.

This, after Senate health and demography chairman Bong Go sponsored Senate Bill 2212 under Committee Report No. 67 during the Senate’s session Wednesday.

Under the measure, the Department of Health will be mandated to establish specialty centers in identified DOH hospitals in every region.

Within five years, Go said the DOH shall establish at least one specialty center in every region with particular focus on establishing heart, lung, and kidney centers which shall replicate the capabilities of the national specialty centers in Metro Manila.

The bill also sets the criteria of the establishment of specialty centers such as  evidence of the health needs and demands in the catchment population, geographic or physical access to the hospital, role of the DOH hospital as referral for healthcare provider networks, availability of competent health human resources for specialized healthcare; and operational and financial performance of the DOH hospital.

The DOH is tasked to ensure that specialty centers in DOH hospitals have expert personnel and medical specialists provided with necessary training and appropriate specialist equipment.

It is also required to include capital outlay investment for designated specialty centers through the Health Facilities Enhancement Program.

DOH shall coordinate with the Department of Budget and Management in the development of the staffing pattern and standards for specialty centers to ensure that plantilla positions are available for the healthcare workers serving in specialty centers.

SB 2212 also defines the roles of the specialty centers and shall authorize them to contract the services of individuals deemed as medical specialists or experts to provide specialty training and technical assistance to specialty centers.

According to Go, an initial budget of P8.6 billion had already been included in the 2023 General Appropriations Act and this bill seeks to sustain its funding.

“We need to make these specialized medical services available to our people in the provinces. We must unburden our people of unnecessary long travels and additional expenses just to get these services,” Go said.

“It is our hope that the establishment of specialty centers would strengthen our healthcare system and make specialized health services available and accessible to all Filipinos in line with our vision of Universal Health Care. It is time that we invest in health,” he added. — BM, GMA Integrated News