FORMER Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has asked the Department of Health (DoH) to use its reported P11.89 billion in 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 Covid-19 cases,” Marcos said.
Recent DOH data showed that the Healthcare Utilization Rate (HCUR) in 14 out of the 32 Covid-19 referral hospitals has hit critical levels—meaning, the occupancy of intensive care unit beds, isolation wards, and the use of mechanical ventilators are already more than 85 percent.
“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 health care in these hospitals by providing them with additional funding to expand their bed capacity,” Marcos stressed.
The data showed HCUR at 100 percent for the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), 99 percent for the Amai Pakpak Medical Center, 96 percent for the Region 1 Medical Center, 96 percent for the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), and 96 percent for the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP), and the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.
An HCUR of 95 percent was reported for the UP-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and the Quirino Memorial Medical Center (QMMC), 92 percent for the Batangas Medical Center (BMC), and 91 percent 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 percent and 89 percent respectively.
Marcos also prodded DOH to consider realigning funds to government-run regional and district hospitals where Covid-19 cases are rising. He also urged DoH to stockpile coronavirus medicines Tocilizumab and Remdesivir to avoid supply issues.
“Aside from aiding our Covid-19 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 said earlier 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 anti-viral drug Remdesivir, another medicine used to treat Covid-19 patients, is only expected to last until the end of the year.