The Senate of the Philippines, on Wednesday, May 31, has ratified the Bicameral Conference Report on the Regional Specialty Centers Act, marking a significant milestone towards improving access to specialized healthcare across the country. The Act, which had undergone a Bicameral Conference to reconcile the differing provisions of Senate Bill No. 2212 and House Bill No. 7751, received overwhelming support from legislators.
During the Senate plenary, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, the principal sponsor of the measure, emphasized the importance of establishing more specialty centers in various regions to ensure that Filipinos have access to the specialized medical services they require.
“With this, Mr. President, we could improve access to specialized medical care. Mailalapit natin ang serbisyo medical sa ating mga kababayan na may malulubhang sakit ngunit walang kakayahan na pumunta dito sa Maynila para magpagamot sa Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center, NKTI (National Kidney and Transplant Institute) o iba pang specialty hospitals dito sa Maynila,” said Go, who serves as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health.
The Bicam report includes several crucial provisions that were agreed upon during the Bicameral Conference. One notable provision is the establishment of specialty centers in existing government-owned and controlled corporations or specialty hospitals.
Go also shared that the measure now specifies the level of service capabilities that the Department of Health will establish in hospitals serving subnational and regional catchment populations.
By setting clear standards, Go hopes that the measure will ensure that the specialty centers provide the necessary expertise and resources to cater to patients’ specialized medical needs effectively in various parts of the country.
The senator likewise mentioned that the proposed Regional Specialty Centers Act now enumerates the medical specialties that the DOH will prioritize in the establishment of these centers.
Go then expressed his appreciation for the conferees from both the Senate and the House of Representatives for their collaborative efforts and dedication that have played a crucial role in crafting a comprehensive and inclusive bill.
“I thank our fellow conferees on the part of the Senate, Senator Loren Legarda and Senator Risa Hontiveros. I also congratulate the conferees on the part of the House of Representatives, Congressman Ciriaco Gato, Congressman Anthony Golez and Congresswoman France Castro,” said Go.
According to the DOH’s timeline, the establishment of specialty centers in Luzon will take place in hospitals such as Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center, Cagayan Valley Medical Center, Batangas Medical Center, and Bicol Regional Hospital and Medical Center.
Moreover, the Visayas region will witness the creation of specialty centers in hospitals such as Western Visayas Medical Center, Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, Eastern Visayas Medical Center, and other DOH hospitals in the region.
In Mindanao, specialty centers will be established at Zamboanga City Medical Center, Northern Mindanao Medical Center, Davao Regional Medical Center, Cotabato Regional and Medical Center, Caraga Regional Hospital, and other DOH hospitals in the region.
Once established, the specialty centers will reduce the need for residents of Visayas and Mindanao to travel to Metro Manila for specialized treatments related to heart conditions, kidney diseases, and other ailments, as they will be able to access these services at the specialty centers in regional DOH hospitals.
With improved access to specialized medical care, Go hopes that Filipinos will receive the necessary treatments and procedures closer to home, enhancing their overall well-being and quality of life.
“Gusto ko rin pong ibahagi sa ating mga kababayan na para sa kanila po ang panukalang batas na ito,” said Go.
“Ito pong regional specialty centers ay isang paraan para mailapit natin ang serbisyo medikal sa ating mga kababayan lalong-lalo na po yung mga mahihirap,” he added.