President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in his first State of the Nation Address, underscored the need to bring medical services to the people, and not wait for them to come to hospitals and health care centers.
The Philippine Healthcraft Carrier is such a solution to providing life-changing medical services to Filipinos, especially those who have no access to hospitals and health centers.
PHC aims to bring Filipino medical specialists to the rural areas for short periods, normally two to seven days, to provide medical services.
The FMS will be supported by trained medical staff with world-class equipment inside a mobile vehicle. The government will then pay PHC on a pre-determined per patient served rate. Such arrangement is expected to enable the government to reduce the cost of providing medical services by more than 50 percent and make it economically viable for FMS to serve in PHC.
This solution is seen more viable than building specialty hospitals all over the country. A major obstacle in building hospitals in rural areas is manning these with FMS.
One would normally invest between 15 to 40 years in education and training from the time he/she enters pre-med school up to the completion of medical specialization training. As such, a FMS would normally practice in a community where he/she can receive an acceptable economic income to compensate for the effort invested in the medical craft. Thus, FMS practice in the more developed urban areas, and not in rural or remote areas of the country.
It is simply a question of economics. Bringing FMS for seven to seven days to rural or remote areas of the country would enable them to provide Filipinos with life-changing medical services. This would also allow FMS to maintain their practice in the urban areas.
PHC can make it economically viable for FMS to join. Although PHC will be paying significantly lower professional fees per patient, the number of patients during the mission will make it economically viable for FMS to serve. In other words, there will be economies of scale.
The proof of concept of the PHC is the surgical missions being done by the Hospital on Wheels headed by Dr. Juan P. Sanchez. HOW conducts surgical missions in far flung areas at an average of three times a month.
A HOW mission, consisting of five surgeons, would cover one to two days and provide medical surgery between 100 to 150 patients a day.
The medical surgery services of HOW include hernia operation, removal of external body tumors, breast cyst operation, goiter removal and other general surgery services.
HOW started in 2007 as a project of the Rotary Club of San Francisco Del Monte under the leadership of Louie Pangulayan. Since then, it has provided surgery to more than 20,000 indigent Filipinos. At an average economic value of P50,000 per surgery, HOW has given more than P1 billion worth of community service to the Philippines.
Another proof of concept is the Vision Screening Missions in public elementary schools done by Dr. Jeson Vinas and his wife Anne.
Dr. Vinas’ experience is that 99 percent of elementary public school students have not seen an optometrist before. Around 25 to 30 percent of those who were vision screened would require corrective eyeglasses.
The common reaction of those who received free corrective eyeglasses is a realization that they are not “intellectually deficient.” After receiving corrective eyeglasses, most students realize that the reason why they could not understand what their teacher was writing on the blackboard before was because they could not see clearly to read these in the first place. Allan Rolando Asi