Country needs to build 100 hospitals to meet healthcare requirements: exec

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

HEALTH CARE. Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines president Dr. Rustico Jimenez (center) answers questions of reporters during the press conference for the Hospital Management Asia 2014. With him are Ashok Nath of Hospital Management Asia and Danny Yeo of Microsoft.(Allan Defensor)

THE Philippines needs to build 100 hospitals or provide facilities for 100,000 hospital beds in the next three years to serve the healthcare requirement of the country’s growing population, said a top official of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAP).

PHAP president Dr. Rustico Jimenez said the ideal ratio is one hospital bed to every 1,000 population. The Philippines, whose population recently hit 100 million, has 1,800 hospitals with roughly 77,000 beds.

Jimenez said building more hospitals will help the Philippines stay competitive once the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) integration happens next year.


He said this will also help generate more employment opportunities in the local healthcare industry.

“We are urging the government and politicians to pour in more investments to the healthcare industry because after all, a healthy nation is a healthy economy,” said Jimenez during the Hospital Management Asia (HMA) 2014 press conference held yesterday at the Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu.

The HMA 2014, which started yesterday, is a two-day learning conference for healthcare managers attended by 831 delegates from 35 countries.

As the Philippines braces itself for the introduction of a single Asean market in 2015, the local healthcare industry can expect more changes, new challenges and opportunities, he said.

He cited the mobility of healthcare workforce to work anywhere in the Asean as one of the challenges. Jimenez admitted the Philippines is now losing its radiologic technologists and medical technologists to other countries that pay better.

“Entry level salary for rad tech for instance should be P20,000 but here in our country it is only P10,000 plus P2,000 allowance,” said Jimenez.

To counter this, he urged hospital owners as well as the government to provide incentives or pay proper salaries to healthcare professionals, especially those in the countryside, to prevent them from leaving the country.

“What private hospitals do is they reduce operating cost so they could increase the salary of their workers, otherwise, we will lose them,” he said. He referred to cost efficient measures hospitals have adopted such as installation of solar panels to save electricity.

Although they welcome the possible entry of more foreign healthcare professionals to work here, Jimenez said they worry on losing highly trained healthcare professionals to other countries.

“It is only in the Philippines that healthcare professionals like doctors are trained very hard. It takes 10 years of education plus six years for specialization before they can practice their profession while in other countries it only takes four years,” Jimenez said.

He also said called on the government to increase its healthcare budget from three percent of the country’s gross domestic product to five percent to upgrade medical equipment and services as well as workforce training, especially in far flung areas.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 29, 2014.


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