25 gov't hospitals need P75-B PPP funds for rehabilitation

By Estrella Torres, BusinessMirror

Posted at Sep 26 2012 07:51 AM | Updated as of Sep 26 2012 09:29 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Public-Private partnership (PPP) investments are critical to the rehabilitation and improvement of 25 ailing government hospitals for P75 billion (at P3 billion each), according to an official of the Department of Health (DOH).

Health Undersecretary Dr. Teodoro Herbosa announced on Tuesday that the government is infusing P3 billion as counterpart funds for the initial improvement of these government hospitals to make them attractive to prospective PPP investors.

“If the government alone were to handle the rehabilitation of these 25 hospitals, it would take us more than 25 years to do it because of limited funds and the bureaucracy,” Herbosa said at a briefing on PPP projects at the British Embassy in the Philippines.

He said the Philippine Orthopedic Center, whose medical infrastructure he said became outdated in 1960, is one of the government hospitals up for PPP investment with an estimated amount of P5.6 billion.

Herbosa, who heads the DOH Task Force for PPP and Health Facilities Enhancement Program, said the DOH Vaccine Self-Sufficiency Program is also being offered for PPP investment worth P1.2 billion.

To highlight key PPP investment opportunities in the Philippines, the United Kingdom Trade and Investment is hosting a seminar mission for British investors and companies on November 8 and 9 in Manila to help them explore opportunities on PPP and infrastructure investments in the country. A similar mission will also be held in Vietnam.

The Manila mission aims to provide a platform for British companies engaged in the Aquino administration’s PPP program, enabling them to present their areas of expertise and capabilities before an audience of government agencies, key industry players, local suppliers and services firms that are potential partners of the British firms.

Britain is the country’s largest investor in the past decade with combined net foreign direct and net portfolio investments from 1999 to 2010 worth $12 billion.

London said PPP projects that can be explored in the Philippines could reach 10 billion pounds to include roads, ports, airports, rail, health, education, power, water and agriculture.

It added that these projects, which had been made a priority for rollout from 2012 to 2013 and will cost £3.3 billion, include transport projects estimated at £2 billion and infrastructure projects at £1.3 billion.

The British Embassy is sending Herbosa and key government experts from the DOH, the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Department of Finance to London from October 7 to 15 to engage with British experts on the PPP program.

Herbosa said medical cost would not increase when the 25 government hospitals are “semi-privatized” under the program.

Under the rehabilitation plan, he added, 30 percent of hospital beds are for patients who can afford to pay and 70 percent will be reserved for sponsored patients, including the poor and those from the lower middle class, whose expenses will be shouldered by PhilHealth.

Among those targeted by the plan are Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital, Jose Fabella Hospital, San Lazaro Hospital, Quirino Hospital and National Mental Health Hospital.