High demand, low budget: A look at worsening conditions of the Philippine General Hospital

October 31, 2019 - 5:18 PM
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Philippine General Hospital
Philippine General Hospital in Manila as photographed in February 2018. (Google Street View)
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A faculty member of the University of the Philippines shared details about the worsening conditions of the Philippine General Hospital amid the rising number of patients from the urban poor.

Dr. Gene Nisperos, president of the UP Academic Employees Union-Manila Chapter, posted about the state-run hospital days after he led a picket to demand a P10-billion budget from the government.

After receiving threats to his and his family’s life because of it, Nisperos took to social media to voice out what he says are problems plaguing the medical institution in the “face of our perpetually neglected public healthcare system.”

Posted by Gene Nisperos on Tuesday, October 29, 2019

 

“As the biggest tertiary training hospital in the country, it provides specialized and very specialized services and training. It is also the end referral hospital of other public hospitals. But it is also the Hospital of the Nation that was neglected,” he said in mixed Filipino and English.

The number of patients increased from 586,000 to 647,000 per year over the last three years, Nisperos noted, while the medical resources and equipment were not multiplied not replaced.

“There [are] just not enough beds or space. There [are] just not enough health personnel,” he said.

Hospital administration has been relying on donations from private companies and other hospitals and the shallow pockets of doctors and nurses.

“Every year, PGH should get P10 billion to give its patients the care they deserve. The hospital should not have to rely on the kind heart of philanthropists or on corporate social responsibility just to keep itself financially afloat. The hospital should not exact any more from the pockets of its patients and its staff,” Nisperos said.

“If PGH is given the budget that it deserves, then it can fulfill its most important role: enable the poor and destitute to exercise, and maybe even experience, their right to health,” he added.

The situation was a turnaround from 2017 when the Office of the President provided P100 million worth of subsidies to patients through PGH Director Gerardo Legaspi.

Legaspi also received another P100 million in May 2018.

In a popular tweet earlier this month, a medical intern also took photos and gave a detailed description of what the hospital goes through every single day.

Salary of public nurses

Government nurses will also not receive an increase in salary, according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque, given that the adjustment was not considered when the budget allocation was submitted.

This means the recent Supreme Court ruling of mandating a P30,531 minimum monthly salary for them will not yet be implemented in 2020.

“I did not really know when the SC was rendering its decison so when we proposed (the) budget—in fact our budget for 2020 was reduced—so quite frankly, we did not include that in the proposed budget of DOH,” Duque said.

Filipinos also decried such development citing the costly tuition of nursing degrees do not equate to the amount of income they receive in their work.

Slash in much-needed health funds

The House of Representatives passed the general appropriations bill or House Bill 4228 worth P4.1 trillion with a vote of 457 to 6 in favor of it last September.

Overall, P16.6 billion that was supposed to be allocated to the Department of Health was removed. Of this, P456 million was for PGH.

The health facilities enhancement program also received a reduction of 63%, Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said.

Garin, also the former health secretary, said this would affect the implementation of the Universal Health Care Law.

Some Filipinos questioned this and cited the reemergence of polio and outbreaks in dengue and measles as reasons why the government should allot more to the health sector.