Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, emphasized Tuesday night the need to modernize the country’s healthcare system which, he said, has long been “neglected.”

30032020 NKTI ROMERO 7 1024x683 - PH healthcare system neglected, needs to be upgraded — Galvez

Galvez made the pitch to President Duterte during the latter’s public address where he bared that aside from the COVID-19 dilemma, the top 10 leading causes of deaths in the country are also on the rise. It includes non-COVID diseases such as heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, renal disease, and diabetes.

“Kailangan po talaga… ako po, Mr. President, [in] my personal opinion, kailangan na po nating i-modernize ang ating healthcare system. Matagal na pong napabayaan po ‘yung ano, ‘yong ating healthcare system kaya po ito po nakikita po natin na malaki ang gap ngayon nating hinaharap (We need to do it. In my personal opinion, Mr. President, we need to modernize our healthcare system. Our healthcare system has been neglected for too long and now we are realizing the huge gaps that we are facing),” he said.

The chief implementer cited the Lung Center of the Philippines, a COVID-referral hospital in Quezon City, which has become the subject of mean jokes because of its sorry state.

“May biruan pa nga doon na ‘yong Lung Center is iisa lang po ‘yong baga kasi ‘yong isang… isang ano, ‘yong isang annex hindi po nagagawa (There’s an inside joke about the Lung Center that it only has one lung because one annex is not yet constructed),” Galvez said.

“So we need to modernize our special hospitals considering ito po talaga nakikita natin sa datos po na number of death every year tumataas po, mas mataas pa po sa COVID (So we need to modernize our special hospitals considering that we see in the data that the number of death every year is increasing, even higher that COVID-19),” Galvez added.

More hospital beds

Galvez said that he already sought the help of Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go to push for the modernization of the healthcare system in the Senate.

While the modernization may take a while, Galvez understands that the need to build more hospital beds for COVID-19 patients cannot wait for too long.

As such, he said the construction of more hospital beds, ICU beds, and isolation beds are on-going around the country to accommodate more COVID-19 patients.

An additional 1,006 COVID-dedicated hospital beds will be built by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) by November, 2020, according to Galvez.

At the East Avenue Medical Center, 250 beds and 25 ICU beds were built while the MVP Group, led by Manny Pangilinan, donated P47 million for the procurement of additional hospital equipment, Galvez said.

About 200 hospital beds are also being constructed at the Rizal Medical Center in Pasig City, at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila, and at the Batangas Medical Center.

Under “Oplan Kalinga” which seeks to adopt a more aggressive isolation strategy for COVID-positive patients who are under home quarantine, Galvez said the government has utilized 79 hotels with a total bed capacity of 7,114.

In the newly-signed Bayanihan to Recover Act or “Bayanihan 2,” Galvez thanked President Duterte for the allocation of P4.5 billion for the construction and use of more hotels which can cater up to 128,000 patients, and for the construction of quarantine centers, field hospitals, and dormitories for medical frontliners.

To cater to renal disease patients who are at risk of infection, Galvez said that 20 machines were given to Cebu City which can cater to 1,600 patients.

“Palakasin po natin talaga ang mga hospital po natin na mga nakatutok po dito sa mga tinatawag nating 10 leading causes of death para po maging prepared po din tayo na ‘yong mga non-COVID cases ay maalalayan din po natin (Let us strengthen the hospitals attending to the top 10 leading causes of death so we can be prepared to help non-COVID patients),” Galvez said.

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