PH kicks off PPPs for health care

By Caroline J. Howard, ANC

Posted at Jan 24 2013 02:00 AM | Updated as of Jan 26 2013 02:42 AM

 MANILA - The Philippine government has approved plans to modernize the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC).

The project involves a 25-year contract for the construction and operation of a 700-bed capacity super-specialty tertiary orthopedic hospital within the compound of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.

"This will be built as a national rehabilitation and prosthesis making center... a new building will rise in the NKTI," Health Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa said on [email protected] on Wednesday.

Herbosa says the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for the POC is now in the bidding process for an approved partner. He notes local and foreign companies have expressed interest to take part in the bidding.

The Philippine government is infusing billions of pesos as counterpart funds for the initial improvement of 35 government hospitals across the country.

"We've budgeted P5.6 billion for this 700-bed... We've studied this very well. This is a properly prepared government plan," Herbosa says. "The only funds coming from the government is about P300 million and another P300 million every year. P5.2 billion will come from private sector investments."

Herbosa clarifies, the project does not entail privatization but rather corporate governance--helping government hospitals deliver the services they were mandated to.

Contrary to claims health benefits will be lost to PPPs such as this one, he notes, the PPPs are meant to plug gaps in the health care system and address the health care needs of the poorest of the poor.

"The key word is partnership. The government does not give up control of regulation of health care but continues to allow it. In fact, there will be increased subsidy for the poor using private money," Herbosa says.

"If they are sponsored by the government, if they belong to Q1 poorest, they can't be denied care. That's part of the contract with the investor and charging benefits to PhilHealth...Only 200 beds will be allocated to the private patients."

Herbosa says, next in the pipeline is the modernization of the Fabella Hospital, whose original venue will make way for a Light Rail Train (LRT) station.

"The Fabella Hospital will be moved to headquarters of the DOH in Tayuman...We effectively create another series of hospitals: San Lazaro, Jose Reyes and Fabella -- another 400-bed mother and child hospital," he says.

The modernization of other health centers are also in the plan.

"We have eight cancer centers we've targetted all over the country... We've decided that we can go on the P3 billion budgeted for the strategic PPP plan."

Meantime, a proposal for a vaccine production center is just waiting the go-signal of government.

So far, the government has successfully inked eight PPP contracts.

Four more were approved in the last NEDA Board meeting.