Press Release
May 29, 2023

Senate Approves Regional Specialty Centers Act
29 May 2023

On Monday, the Senate gave its third reading approval on Senate Bill No. 2212, or the Regional Specialty Centers Act--one of the priority measures in the Common Legislative Agenda of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council.

"This was my promise to the people during last year's campaign, and it is now only one short step away from becoming law," said Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, principal author and co-sponsor of the measure.

"?This bill is a shot in the arm of our public health system. To borrow a medical term, it is a major transfusion of resources to government hospitals in the regions, nearer to the sick who need affordable care."

Under the bill, specialty centers will be established under government hospitals across the country, in an effort to decentralize the services of specialty centers such as the Philippine Children's Medical Center, the Philippine Heart Center, the Lung Center of the Philippines, and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), which are all located in Manila Manila.

"For the sick, the journey to big cities for treatment is the road to bankruptcy. Not only is the hospital bill enormous, transient stay is also expensive. What little money has been begged or borrowed end up being spent on lodging of carers instead of cure. The individual patient may survive, but family finances will not," the Senate President said.

"If the people cannot go to where excellent care are, then government must bring excellent medical care to them."

In his first State of the Nation Address, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. highlighted the need to make medical services more accessible outside Metro Manila.

"This bill closes the gap between the sick and hospitals, both in terms of distance and cost. Not only does it improve care delivery, it lessens the financial trauma of families as well," the Senate President stressed.

"Hindi na kailangang ibenta ang ari-arian upang lumipad sa Philippine Heart Center kung ang mga regional medical centers ay mayroong modernong heart centers na. Hindi kailangang atakehin sa gastos ang may sakit sa puso."

National specialty hospitals--for instance the Lung Center, the Heart Center, and the NKTI--will be mandated to serve as the core information hub for their respective specializations, as well as lead in the undertaking of research and the development of policies, protocols, and standards for specialty services under their ambit.

They are also set to provide the necessary training and technical assistance to the new regional specialty centers, and to conduct capacity and capability assessment of the services of regional specialty centers.

"The hospital modernization this bill calls for is an emergency procedure that cannot be postponed. So when the President signs it into law, he must also order that the funds to implement it are included in the next national budget," said the Senate President.

"With ample funding, we can end soonest the unfair situation in which state-of-the-art medical facility is a big city luxury."

Along with the Senate President, the bill is sponsored by the Chairperson of the Committee on Health and Demography, Sen. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go.

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