‘Build hospitals, but build health centers also’

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday underscored the critical role barangay health centers play in the success of breastfeeding and other primary healthcare programs, saying these should be delivered immediately and be accessible to the constituents at the barangay level.

Cayetano made the statement in his interpellation during Senator Pia Cayetano’s privilege speech on breastfeeding.

He said while he supports President Ferdinand Marcos’ push for specialty hospitals around the country, it is equally important to build health centers that will focus on the health of the people and not on their diseases.

“Around 47.2 percent of the barangays in the Philippines do not have health centers. I think it is essential that the DOH come out with a plan of how to be able to build, staff, and fully equip health centers precisely so that we can build a good foundation for our primary healthcare system and to better take care of our mothers, their children, and senior citizens. Ito (barangay health centers) po y’ung bahay ng bawat komunidad,” he said.

“Despite all of this earmarking (of funds), hindi po nale-lessen yung gap sa kakulangan ng mga barangay health center. So dumami na po yung mga city hospital, municipal at district hospitals, which is a good thing, pero yung pinka-basic which are the primary health centers ay mukhang napag-iiwanan,” he said.

He said while a big chunk of the budget is given to infrastructure and equipment, it is equally important to train doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel

“Y’ung mapa-graduate y’ung mga doktor, ma-train yung mga nurse, at ma-train y’ung mga personnel sa gagamitin na mga equipment, all of that is also important,” he said.

Cayetano said if 47.2 percent of the country’s barangays have no health center, it would be easy to ask the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) how many they can build in a year and thus make them accountable.

“Ilan ba ang kaya niyong gawin every year? Kaya niyo bang tapusin yan in three years or in four years? So whether it’s the budget hearing or we call them for a question hour, accountable sila,” he said.

Cayetano has filed several bills in the 19th Congress focusing on Primary Healthcare Programs such as the Health Center in All Barangays Act (Senate Bill No. 303), Mahal Ko, the Barangay Health Worker ko Law (SB No. 68), and the Super Health Centers in All Cities and Municipalities Act (SB No. 304).

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