MANILA—Sen. Pia Cayetano on Tuesday pushed for the passage of a bill that aims to include the construction of health facilities in the government's massive infrastructure program to help the country to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and other illnesses.
Cayetano's Senate Bill No. 63 or the Priority Health Infrastructure bill would speed up building hospitals, laboratories and other medical facilities nationwide to ensure that the health sector will not lag behind the country's envisioned infrastructure development.
The measure guarantees an annual P10-billion budget for the construction and improvement of health care facilities.
"I filed this Build, Build, Build for Health bill last year pa [kasi] lagi na lang walang-wala pagdating sa healthcare," the senator said in an online press conference.
"Let's learn from our experiences during this global health crisis. To most effectively protect and promote the health of our people against future crises, we need to revitalize and strengthen our public health infrastructure.
"This will require political and financial support over time.
Under the bill, community health facilities will be improved to enable local health centers to "take care of the basic health care needs of their residents."
"Then, the next step would be the establishment of specialty medical centers for patients who need to be referred to these specialists," Cayetano said in a separate statement.
The Department of Health (DOH) will be tasked to come up with a 5-year plan that will "determine [the] priority health infrastructure needs of government hospitals," according to the measure.
"As we begin a new normal due to the COVID-19 threat, we need to be forward thinking and put health care infrastructure on top of our priorities," she said.
Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs Secretary Vince Dizon has agreed to "take up" the proposal with executive branch officials involved in the government's "Build, build, build" program, the senator said.
Cayetano said she also plans to "put more funds" into the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and in state universities and colleges "to fund innovations" and research.