THE HEALTH department on Tuesday vowed to make science-based decisions and make the Philippine healthcare system resilient to future diseases as it backed President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. ‘s decision to ditch lockdowns.
Maria Rosario S. Vergeire, officer-in-charge of the Department of Health (DoH), said the government will increase the current seven public health laboratories across the country to 30 by 2030 to boost the country’s response to emerging and re-emerging diseases.
“We are going to have this strengthened epidemiology and surveillance units all over the country and that is already part of the budget that we have proposed to the department of Budget of Management so that we’ll be able to use science as basis for actions for our local government units,” she told an economic briefing a day after Mr. Marcos’ first address to Congress.
“We would like to base all of our decisions with evidence and data.”
The government also aims to establish more specialty care facilities in different parts of the country, increasing these to 329 from 46 by 2025, Ms. Vergeire said.
It also targets to build 3,000 additional primary care facilities, and 400,000 more hospital beds “for us to be at par with our neighboring countries,” she added.
To decongest facilities, the government is pushing for telemedicine services, Ms. Vergeire said.
In his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, Mr. Maros urged Congress to pass measures that would establish a vaccine institute and a center for disease control and prevention.
Mr. Marcos, who vowed to build more health centers and specialty hospitals nationwide, said his government would not resort to lockdowns.
“We are one with the call of the President. There won’t be lockdowns anymore and in the future,” Ms. Vergeire said. “Eventually we should be able to prepare our healthcare system and be prepared in case there will be another pandemic of this scale,” referring to coronavirus.
While coronavirus Omicron subvariants are still spreading in the Philippines, “nationwide cases have been reported to be mild and can be allowed to heal at home,” Ms. Vergeire said.
She said the hospital admission rate remains at low risk, with severe and critical cases at only 8.69% of total admissions as of July 26.
The Health official said 59% of the DoH’s budget for this year came from sin tax collections, referring to levy imposed on cigarettes, heated tobacco products, and alcoholic beverages.
“We intend to use these sin taxes to pursue our objectives for health facilities.”
She said the government would tap the private sector to provide services that the DoH cannot provide. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza