Health is a fundamental determinant of the country’s economic growth. As the World Health Organization says, better health makes an important contribution to economic progress as healthy populations who live longer are more productive.

There are several factors influencing the health status of a country and its ability to provide quality health care services. In the Philippines, in particular, the Department of Health (DoH) holds the overall technical authority of the said sector, serving as the national health policy maker and regulatory institution.

Aside from the public sector, the private sector has strong involvement as well in developing the local health care system. In fact, there are more private hospitals in the Philippines than their public counterparts. According to DoH, there are approximately 1,071 private hospitals and only 721 public hospitals listed in the country. Among the public hospitals, 70 of them are being operated by the DoH while the remaining hospitals are managed by local government units and other national government.

“Almost half of the population goes to private facilities for their health care needs. However, private hospitals cater more to the upper socioeconomic quintiles and those covered by health insurance,” the DoH said.

On the other hand, the poorest of the population are the main users of government health facilities, as data have shown. These health facilities have suffered neglect due to the inadequacy of health budgets, the DoH said.

There have been several efforts from the public and private health facilities to improve its health care services to Filipinos and ensure a healthy country.

The Philippine General Hospital (PGH), which is the only national referral center for tertiary care that provides direct and quality patient services to thousands of indigent Filipinos all over the country, has done several improvements in its operations over the years.

Aside from striving to provide cutting-edge medical equipment, the PGH continuously renovates some of its facilities. The improvement of its health care delivery has resulted in more patients seeking its services, the state-owned hospital says on its website.

“In 2016, census of patients rose by 25,000 from the average of 580,000 in the past ten years to 605,000 in 2016. 50% of patients were noted to come from the NCR, 30% from the Calabarzon and the remaining 20% from the rest of the country, including the ARMM and Bontoc Province,” the PGH says.

“It is predicted that as more advanced equipment and procedures or services are being installed in PGH, much more patients will be flocking in. Hence, there is a real need to establish another facility to further expand the services and expertise of PGH,” it adds.

In line with this, the construction of PGH in Diliman, Quezon City is in the pipeline, which will include a multi-storey tertiary care hospital, medical research center, ancillary facilities, and commercial areas. It is envisioned to complement and enhance the capabilities of the existing facility in Manila.

“An example of this would be — since the Eye Center is already in Manila — to position the Ear Center in Diliman. We can also create totally new institutes that will collaborate with existing units in UP Diliman, not found in UP Manila, like putting up the Institute of Sports Medicine which can be linked with the College of Human Kinetics and the Varsity Athletic Program. Expanding it even further, we can foresee a future wherein medical innovations and even manufacturing will be done in Diliman capitalizing on collaboration with Engineering and other sciences,” the PGH says.

It adds that the second PGH should be the hospital that the government does not have yet — a “Triple A” facility that will compete in form and function with the top private hospitals in the country and learning institutions abroad.

The Medical City —

Meanwhile, private hospitals in the country tend to be rated higher in terms of facilities and medical technologies offered. Some of the top private hospitals in the country include The Medical City (TMC) and St. Luke’s Medical Center.

TMC, according to its website, is a growing health care network with its main health care complex located along Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City, while the provincial hospitals are strategically situated in Clark, Iloilo, Laguna, and Pangasinan. It serves some 50,000 inpatients and 500,000 outpatients a year.

“TMC boasts of a distinguished medical staff of some 1,500 physicians, all of whom are experienced and recognized experts in their various fields. The Medical staff is supported by a 4,000-member organization composed of allied medical and administrative staff, many of whom have honed their expertise over years of loyal service to the institution,” TMC says.

The St. Luke’s Medical Center, on the other hand, has two facilities located in Quezon City and Taguig City, with a combined total of 1,146 well-appointed rooms. According to its Web site, each is equipped with the best available equipment depending on patient requirements.

“With 12 institutes and various departments and centers serving its patients, St. Luke’s practices a multidisciplinary and comprehensive approach to the diagnosis and treatment of specific medical conditions, while significant investments have been made to acquire advanced medical technologies and equipment that provide the most accurate diagnostics possible,” St. Luke’s Medical Center says. — Mark Louis F. Ferrolino