Press Release
May 26, 2020

Hontiveros: Don't just flatten the curve, 'raise the line'
by adding more hospital beds

"To win this fight against COVID-19, efforts to flatten the curve of new cases should be accompanied by measures to raise the line of our health system capacity."

This was the remark of Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday as she pushed for the augmentation of the country's healthcare system as part of preparations for the possible resurgence of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections and for future public health emergencies.

"Kasabay ng physical distancing at community quarantine ang pagpapalakas din dapat ng kapasidad ng ating mga ospital para matugunan ang ating pangangailang pangkalusugan," she added.

During the hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Hontiveros explained that raising the line means improving health care capacity by providing quarantine facilities and additional beds in government hospitals. She furthered that under normal circumstances, hospitals run by the Department of Health (DOH) already exceeded the World Health Organization's recommended standard of bed occupancy of 80-85%. This problem, according to her, is aggravated by the pandemic and government's inaction will put patients at more risk.

"Increasing our bed capacity is a prerequisite for lifesaving treatment for Filipinos," she said. "Kung wala tayong magiging aksyon dito, para na rin nating ipinahamak ang ating mga kababayan."

However, under current regulations, a public hospital can only increase its bed capacity through legislation. Since the previous Congress, the Senator has pushed for the passage of Senate Bill No. 863 or the DOH Hospital Bed Capacity Rationalization Act that aims to grant DOH the power to set and approve the bed occupancy rates of its retained hospitals. Inherent in this authority is the responsibility to formulate guidelines that will be used for evaluating and rationalizing bed capacity.

"This would enable us, in the Senate, to look at its implications for allocating appropriate funding to allow public hospitals to effectively provide quality services." she said.

Hontiveros said that the passage of this bill will not only save lives in this time of health emergency, but will ultimately serve the health care needs of the Filipinos from this point forward.

"Sa ganitong paraan, wala na tayong nakikitang mga pasyenteng nagtitiis sa mga pasilyo, wala ng buhay na nasasakripisyo dahil hindi tinanggap sa ospital' na 'puno na', at mas maraming Pilipino ang matutugunan ang pangangailang pangkalusugan, may pandemic man o wala," she concluded.

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