Press Release
May 30, 2006

Well-equipped hospitals beat earthquake drills - Recto
Only 24 of 10,000 will have a bed when the Big One strikes Metro Manila

The best earthquake preparedness program for Metro Manila is the upgrading of public hospitals in the megapolis of 11.2 million, Sen. Ralph Recto said .

If we want to be prepared for the Big One then we should enhance the capabilities of government hospitals in the National Capital Region, Recto said .

A real hospital improvement program in NCR beats any elaborate drill based on a simulated earthquake, Recto said.

Recto cited figures which underscore fears that Metro hospitals, already overcrowded and understaffed in normal times, wont be able to attend to the expected tens of thousands of casualties of a major quake .

He said, on paper, there are 15,975 hospital beds in Metro Manila. Manning these are 2,316 doctors and 4,228 nurses. (see National Statistics Office Philippine Yearbook 2005)

While total number of hospitals beds in the region is 26,795, if private hospital beds are included, this combined number would still prove insufficient if the casualty rate is in the tens of thousands, he said.

Only 24 persons out of 10,000 victims will have a bed, Recto warned.

Citing Department of Health sources, Recto said there are less than 50 functioning ambulances in DOH-run hospitals.

Because Manila lies in the typhoon alley and in the ring of fire , Recto said disaster preparedness program must invariably include the improvement of the capability of public hospitals to attend to a catastrophic event.

This early we must fill the gaps in medical personnel . As far as earthquake-proofing is concerned that is as important as seeing to it that our buildings dont develop cracks after a minor tremor , he said.

Recto had earlier proposed a P150 M additional allocation to the budget of Philippine General Hospital for medical equipment and P100 Million for scholarship grants to medical students.

He said budget augmentation of public hospitals in NCR and in major urban centers such as Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod , Naga and Angeles can be effected by diverting lump sums in the proposed 2006 budget to these facilities.

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