The Manila City Council on Tuesday denied any irregularity in the planned reduction of the budgets of six city-run hospitals in 2017, saying it only meant to streamline the distribution of free medicines to residents.
Councilor Casimiro Sison, the council’s majority floor leader, clarified that the P360 million to be taken from the hospitals will merely be transferred to 59 community health centers that would purchase and distribute maintenance drugs directly to barangay residents.
This move, Sison said, is intended to relieve the pressure on the public hospitals whose out-patient departments have been overwhelmed by many patients requiring continuous medications.
“So what they can do? They just cannot reject patients at the OPD. The hospital patients are being side-stepped. Funds meant for in-patients are dissipated and being transferred to the outpatients,” Sison explained.
After careful deliberation, he said the council agreed to remove P59,856,650 from the submitted budget of each hospital and “deliver” it to the Manila Health Department under Dr. Benjamin Yson.
The MHD came up with a program to pour more funds into the community health centers in the city’s six districts to strengthen their capability to handle less serious illnesses and distribute the required maintenance drugs directly to patients, especially senior citizens, Sison said.
“The directors of the six hospitals agreed, you can ask them,” the councilor said, as he hit third district Councilor Bernie Ang for alleging that the slashed hospital budgets would be diverted to hire more casual employees.
“We had a series of budget deliberations for 2017, and not one among those budget deliberations was attended by Mr. Bernie Ang, who keeps on talking here. Not even once. He never attended,” Sison said.
Ang could not be reached for comment as of press time.
The City Council also passed on second reading Proposed Ordinance No. 7810 appropriating P14.88 billion as the executive budget of Manila for 2017.
Yson, for his part, said the additional funds for the health centers is barely enough to pay for the cost of maintenance drugs. He originally proposed to the city council a budget of P1.05 billion a year to procure the medicines.
“Our health centers are the ones that promote wellness in the communities, meaning it’s more of a prevention campaign. Hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, these cases should be handled in the health centers,” he explained.
But these chronic diseases, Yson said, require daily maintenance medicines that are too expensive for poor city residents to afford.
“This will solve the problems in the hospitals with regards to heart attack and stroke and other related heart diseases, which needs to be controlled by medicine,” he added.
Manila’s six public hospitals are Sta. Ana Hospital, Ospital ng Tondo, Ospital ng Sampaloc, Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center, Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center, and Justice Jose Abad Santos General Hospital.
At GABMMC, for instance, the number of admitted patients for the last six months has reached 3,525 with 23,721 at the OPD, with an occupancy rate of more than 100 percent, said Dr. Regina Bagsic, the overall coordinator of the hospitals.
At the Ospital ng Tondo, there were 3,645 admissions, also in the last six months, with more than 29,000 at the OPD, Bagsic added.
Overall, 16,598 patients were served and treated in the city’s hospitals during the same period, excluding the 141,474 others who were treated at the OPDs, she said.