February 29, 2024

The Department of Health said access to specialty care will be prioritized over establishing specialty hospitals across the country.
In a position paper submitted to the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, DOH Usec. Lilibeth David said the DOH supports various bills that seek to establish specialty centers in regions to address the gaps in access to specialist care as most specialty hospitals are located in Metro Manila.
However, David suggested for existing DOH hospitals to be upgraded first to provide access to specialty care by 2025.
“The new construction of single specialty hospitals requires a longer time and a higher budget and also for the capacity development of the human resources to be manning these hospitals,” David said.
“Even as we project to have sometime in the future single specialty hospitals in various regions of the country, we need to prioritize access at the soonest possible time for specialty care services for our people,’ she added.
The DOH proposed agency-run hospitals designated as specialty care centers should develop their plans consistent with their designated service capacity.
This will give access to the capital outlay investment and other sources of funds from the government or through official development assistance, David said.
“We need to do this so that we can program the adequate number of specialists and the role of other agencies in the production and training of health workers,” she said.
The DOH has crafted a development plan for specialty care which is part of the Philippine Health Facility Development Plan (PHFDP) 2020-2040.
Sixteen specialties were selected as priorities based on the country’s top diseases, existing laws and mandates, and special needs.
The DOH defines a specialty center as “a unit or a department in a hospital that offers specialized care addressing particular conditions and/or providing specific procedures and management of cases requiring specialized training and/or equipment.”
A specialty hospital, on the other hand, refers to “an entire hospital that specializes in a particular disease or condition.”
The PHFDP has prioritized the development of 328 specialty centers across different hospitals in all regions.
The Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and Philippine Children’s Medical Center, all in Quezon City, are pioneers in developing specialty care.
As he pushes for a stronger health care system amid the pandemic, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is eyeing the creation of more specialty hospitals in other parts of the country to enhance the delivery of health care in far-flung rural areas.
“We will bring the health care system closer to the people so that they will no longer have to go to the centers of their town, province, and region. We will put up clinics and rural health units to be visited by doctors, nurses, midwives and med techs once a week. It would be easier for the sick to be treated without having to travel far,” Marcos said in his first State of the Nation Address in July.
He also urged Congress to pass a law that will create the country’s first Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a virology center, and a vaccine institute.
Bills for the creation of such institutes have been filed in the Duterte administration. –PNA