Bill filed to accelerate health infrastructure program

As the Philippine economy continues to expand, so does the demand for better public health services from the growing urban and rural population. To meet this increasing need, Senator Pia S. Cayetano has filed the “Priority Health Infrastructure Act.”

Known also as the ‘Build, Build, Build for Health’ Bill, the measure aims to create a comprehensive and sustainable approach to health infrastructure over the next five years. 

The proposal takes off from the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ Program for public works and is anchored on the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 to accelerate human capital development through quality health care services. 

The measure is also expected to put the Philippines on track in attaining its target to provide essential health care for all by 2030 under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The Department of Health (DOH) shall be assigned to determine priority health infrastructure needs of government hospitals all over the country to be integrated in a five-year plan. An annual budget of P10 billion is allocated for the improvement of health facilities in priority areas.

As the government has made considerable progress to improve health care in the past years, most notably with the passage of the Universal Health Care Act, serious challenges remain in the absorptive capacity of the nation’s public health system, Cayetano stressed. Twice as many households seek health care in public health facilities compared to private health facilities.

“To most effectively protect and promote the health of the population, the nation’s entire governmental public health infrastructure must be revitalized and strengthened. This will require political and financial support over time,” Cayetano said on the necessity of the bill’s passage.

For the 18th Congress, the senator has filed related measures on health care, including the bill establishing Specialty Centers in DOH Hospitals and Medical Centers, as well as the bill mandating the appointment of at least one midwife for every barangay.

The former chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Cayetano led the passage of several landmark laws to enhance public health services. 

Among these are the Mental Health Act (RA 11036), the National Health Insurance Act (RA 10606), the Philippine National Health Research System Act (RA 10532), the Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act (RA 10512), and the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act (RA 10354). #

File photo: Then Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano visits mothers at the Maternity Ward of Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu. (February 2019)

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