MANILA – The national government must ensure accessible and affordable quality healthcare services to the people in the countryside to ensure successful implementation of the proposed “Balik Probinsya”, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said Monday.
“Mahalaga po na matugunan ng gobyerno ang mga pangangailangang medikal ng mga kababayan natin sa mga probinsya upang mahikayat po sila na manatili roon (It is important for the government to address the health needs of our countrymen in the provinces to persuade them to remain there),” he said in a statement.
“Accessible and affordable quality healthcare services will provide the people with added security and will eliminate the need for them to travel to metropolitan areas just to seek proper health care,” he added.
Go said the Department of Health (DOH) has already started making plans to immediately rejuvenate local healthcare facilities once the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis is over.
But while much work needs to be done to address the requirements of the Balik Probinsya program in terms of healthcare, Go assured that the DOH is doing its best to enhance its current programs and promote the well-being of all Filipino citizens, wherever they are in the country.
Among them is the Medical Scholarship Program which aims to ensure that every barangay has a doctor.
He also cited the DOH’s Human Resources for Health Deployment Program which aims to provide sufficient number of doctors, nurses, midwives and other health workers, especially in places where there are no barangay health workers, in far-flung and disadvantaged communities, and indigenous peoples communities.
To further bolster the efforts of the health department, Go suggested additional funding for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program and the Botika ng Barangay Program to address other healthcare needs of Filipinos in terms of infrastructure and medicine.
He also stressed the need to improve health emergency services by providing ambulances for all towns, ensure proper health care and improve health capacity by building more hospitals and clinics, among others.
“Sa kabila nito, kailangan pa pong mas paigtingin ang suporta sa departamento upang magawa nito ang kanilang iba pang immediate, medium at long-term plans para sa sistematikong pag-implementa ng Balik Probinsya program (Besides these, we need to intensify our support to the DOH in order for it to fulfill its immediate, medium-term and long-term plans for the systemic implementation of the Balik Probinsya program,” Go said.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography earlier proposed the Balik Probinsiya program to solve the congestion problem in Metro Manila, and other metropolitan areas, which has been found to exacerbate the impact of pandemics, such as the Covid-19.
He pointed out that despite the huge number of hospitals and other medical facilities found in Metro Manila, the existing public health structure is still struggling to cope with surge capacity due to the sheer number of individuals needing their services.
Go also said that by decentralizing the structure of governance and devolving responsibilities between the central and local governments, future pandemics will be handled more efficiently and effectively by the government.
“Devolving further the manner and approach of our government in providing essential services will lead to faster response to the needs of our people,” Go said.
“At the same time, the Balik Probinsya program would also lead to equitable development all throughout the country and spur rural development,” he said.
The Balik Probinsya program has already garnered the full support of the DOH and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III agreed with Go that congestion in urban centers does increase the risk of an outbreak of a disease.
“Maganda na programa ito. Kung mas maaga nating magagawa ito ay malaking tulong para sa ating mga kababayan at ganun din po sa gastusin pagdating sa pamamahala ng mga epidemya… malaking tulong ito sa ating gobyerno(This program is good. If we can implement this earlier, it would greatly help our countrymen, as well as in managing epidemics in terms of funding… this is also of great help to our government),” Duque said.
In the meantime, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez assured that the government would provide incentives for businesses that will open in the countryside.
He said the government will also provide financial assistance to those who seek to open micro, small or medium enterprises in the provinces. (ia/PNA)