LEGAZPI CITY: The Philippines is in need of 45,000 additional hospital beds and more public health physicians to provide medical services to 105 million Filipinos across the country, especially in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said.
Ubial, who was here for the Asean Dengue Day 2017 event, added that the country has 1,900 hospitals with at least 82,000 beds in the government and private sectors, also has a shortage of rural health units (RHU) and health centers.
Aside from the 45,000 backlog in hospital beds, the country is also in need of more than 1,000 government and private hospitals.
“For 105 million Filipinos, we need around 126,000 hospital beds throughout the country meaning we are short by 44,000 to 45,000 beds for a ratio of one bed for every 800 people,” the health chief said.
“For the rest of the country, the situation is one bed per 2,500 people. The situation in Metro Manila is better compared to other regions with the ratio of one bed per 590,” Ubial said.
“We also have a shortage of rural health units (RHU) and health centers. For every 20,000 people, we need at least one RHU. Currently, we have 2,600 RHUs so we have a shortfall of 5,200 RHUs and health centers,” she added.
In the Bicol region, Ubial said there is a ratio of only one bed for every 1,900 patient. With a population of more than five million, the region needs 12,000 more hospital beds.
Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara assured the health secretary that the provincial government will increase the number of hospital beds to 150, to which Ubial appealed for 300 beds which is the ideal number.
She also lauded the project of Albay Mayor Noel Rosal who is building a city hospital with 100 beds.
“The most desperate situation is in ARMM where there is a dire need for hospital beds and health personnel. There is only one bed for every 4,200 people and there is an urgent need for public health doctors, nurses and midwives,” Ubial added.
“We’re proposing to have one hospital bed per 800 Filipinos throughout the country particularly in Lanao Sur, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-tawi and Marawi so that there will be no patients in the corridors,” she said.
She explained that the lack of hospital beds will double the number of patients in hospital corridors, putting their lives at stake and posing a greater burden on health personnel.
“Patients in hospital corridors are at greater risk and it becomes more difficult for health personnel as they need to work double time as the number of patients increase. There are many patients but we have few doctors and nurses because only few join our department due to the low salary,” she said.
To address the scarcity of medical health personnel, Ubial said the health department is giving scholarships to doctors, nurses and midwives on condition that they will serve in the ARMM after graduation to provide much needed health services to the people in Mindanao.