Spread unobligated funds to referral hospitals, Bongbong prod the DoH

Former Sen. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. on Thursday asked the Department of Health (DoH) to use its reported P11.89 billion unobligated funds for the needs of referral hospitals that are running low on manpower and medical supplies.

“Additional support funds must be infused immediately into referral hospitals to prevent them from being overwhelmed amid the surge in new Covid19 cases,” Marcos said.

Recent data from the DoH showed that the Healthcare Utilization Rate (HCUR) in 14 out of the 32 Covid19 referral hospitals are already at critical levels. An alarming development that means the occupancy of intensive care unit beds, isolation wards, and the use of mechanical ventilators are already more than 85%.

“Now would be the right time to put these unobligated funds to good use. The DoH should act fast to avert the looming collapse of healthcare in these hospitals by providing them with additional funding to expand their bed capacity,” Marcos stressed.

The data revealed that HCUR was 100% for the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), 99% for the Amai Pakpak Medical Center, 96% for the Region 1 Medical Center, 96% for the Southern Philippine Medical Center (SPMC), and 96% for the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP), and the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

It also noted HCUR of 95% for the UP-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and the Quirino Memorial Medical Center (QMMC), 92% for the Batangas Medical Center (BMC), and 91% for the Jose Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital and the Dr. Paulino Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center.

Meanwhile, Cagayan Valley Medical Center in Region II and the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital posted HCURs of 86% and 89% respectively.

Marcos also prodded the DoH to consider realigning funds to government-run regional and district hospitals where Covid19 cases are rising. He also urged DoH to stockpile coronavirus medicines Tocilizumab and Remdesivir to avoid supply issues.

“Aside from aiding our Covid19 referral hospitals, DoH should also realign funds to our Regional and District Hospitals. Allowing them to increase bed capacity now will keep them a step ahead of the disease. The DoH should also consider having a national stockpile of Tocilizumab and Remdesivir since these get depleted fast and as a result, hospitals fall prey to price gouging from unscrupulous suppliers,” Marcos added.

DoH on Monday said that the country’s supply of Tocilizumab, a repurposed anti-arthritis drug will only last for a few more days if no new suppliers are found.

The DoH also added that supply for the anti-viral drug Remdesevir, another medicine used to treat Covid19 patients, is only expected to last until the end of the year. ###