Press Release
May 25, 2020

As country continues to fight COVID-19, Bong Go files health-related bills to boost country's healthcare system

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed gaps in the Philippine healthcare system. As the country continues to battle the virus, Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go is pushing for legislative measures which seek to further strengthen and enhance the country's healthcare system.

"Bilang Chair ng Senate Committee on Health, sisiguraduhin natin na magiging mas maayos ang ating healthcare system habang sinusubukan nating lampasan ang krisis na dulot ng COVID-19. Let us all learn from this experience and better prepare ourselves for any health emergency that may come," Go said.

Among Go's filed bills, Senate Bill (SB) 1226, or the proposed DOH Hospital Bed Capacity and Service Capability Rationalization Act, aims to authorize the Department of Health to increase the bed capacity and service capability of its retained hospitals and to allow it to promulgate evaluation and approval guidelines.

"Tulungan natin ang DOH na maisaayos ang mga ospital nila para mas maibigay sa mga Pilipino ang nararapat na serbisyong medikal, lalo na sa oras ng pandemya tulad ngayon," Go said, as the bill seeks to streamline the process for approving changes in the authorized bed capacities and corresponding service capabilities of all DOH hospitals.

If passed into law, DOH will also be required to develop the Philippine Health Facility Development Plan to guide the modernization and development plans of all government health facilities, and in order to access capital outlay investment through the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of the DOH and other national government capital outlay investment mechanisms.

As quarantine protocols and physical distancing measures proved to be crucial in the fight against COVID-19, Go also filed SB 1259 or the "Mandatory Quarantine Facilities Act of 2020" which mandates the establishment of quarantine facilities in every region in the country.

"Habang wala pang mabisang gamot at bakuna para sa COVID-19 at ibang contagious diseases, pinakamabisang paraan pa rin ang isolation," Go said, emphasizing the need to be proactive when dealing with pandemics.

"Nakita naman po natin na ginagawa ng gobyerno ang lahat para rumesponde sa krisis. Nagtayo agad ng quarantine facilities sa iba't ibang lugar gamit ang available infrastructure na meron na tayo. Pero kung mayroon na tayong nakahandang pasilidad para sa ganitong mga krisis o sakuna, mas mabilis at mas mabisa nating maproprotektahan ang kalusugan ng kapwa nating Pilipino," he added.

SB 1259 will establish quarantine facilities in every region. To ensure the accessibility of the quarantine facilities to healthcare facilities, the proposed bill mandates that their locations be easily accessible to a DOH hospital and strategically located to ensure the safety of the community.

Go also filed a bill seeking to strengthen the country's efforts in disease surveillance and epidemiologic investigation. SB 1528 filed by Go seeks to amend Republic Act 11332, also known as the "Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act."

The Senator said that the bill will enhance disease surveillance and control in the country, such as having better capabilities in conducting more testing and intensive contact tracing in times of pandemics.

"Malaking bahagi ng ating laban sa COVID-19 ang contact tracing at targeted testing. Kailangan ayusin ang ating disease surveillance and control capabilities para gawing mas handa ang bansa sa anumang health crisis na darating," Go said.

The same bill also establishes sub-national laboratories in all DOH-run regional hospitals in the country which will have the capacity to undertake testing, diagnosis, control and prevention of infectious diseases. Local government units may also establish their own laboratories and/or partner with private hospitals and laboratories in the conduct of infectious disease surveillance provided that the laboratories shall be duly accredited and approved by the DOH.

Go also filed SB 1451, also known as the "Medical Reserve Corps Act of 2020," which seeks to establish a Medical Reserve Corps composed of all persons who have degrees in the field of medicine, nursing, medical technology, and other health-related fields but have yet to have their respective licenses to practice for reasons such as, but not limited to, not having taken and/or passed the licensure examinations in their respective professions.

If passed into law, the members of the Medical Reserve Corps may be called upon and mobilized to assist the national government and the local government units in times of national emergencies.

The four measures being pushed by Go also seek to complement the implementation of the Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2) Program which envisions equitable economic development among all regions of the country by ensuring that the needs of Filipinos in both urban and rural areas, including healthcare, are satisfactorily provided.

"Once we have well-equipped hospitals with increased bed capacities in the provinces, sufficient medical workers, and proper protocols in place for future health emergencies, we can assure Filipinos that a better life is waiting for them wherever they are in the country," he said.

Meanwhile, Go also mentioned that Malasakit Centers all over the country will continue to provide accessible medical and financial assistance especially to poor and indigent Filipinos.

As the author of the Malasakit Center Act of 2019, Malasakit Centers are one-stop shops situated in public hospitals that streamline the process of availing medical assistance from PhilHealth, DOH, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. Currently, there are 71 Malasakit Centers all over the country.

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