As the country continues to face huge challenges posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak, the government is also in a race to provide better responses to curb the spread of the deadly respiratory disease.
In line with this, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go announced that the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) vowed to expedite payments and settle its obligations to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and public and private hospitals to ensure the unhampered conduct of Covid-19 tests.
The senator stressed that PhilHealth chief Dante Gierran pledged to resolve the problem on payments to the PRC for the speedy provision of needed medical services amid rapidly rising number of Covid-19 cases, particularly in Metro Manila.
“Atty. Gierran has already spoken with President Rodrigo Duterte and the President urged Gierran to hasten PhilHealth’s financial obligations to government hospitals, private hospitals and the PRC so that they can have continuous cash flow,” said Go.
Duterte’s former top aide made his appeal to Gierran during the turnover ceremony of the Department of Health-Quezon Institute Off-Site Modular Hospital in Quezon City.
The modular facility, which aims to augment beds dedicated for Covid-19 patients in Metro Manila, is a 110-bed capacity off-site modular hospital extension of the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center located at the Quezon Institute.
To further increase Metro Manila’s beds dedicated to Covid-19 patients, Go said that the government is looking to add more ICU beds similar to modular units which will cater to severe cases.
The senator also urged the public to let medical experts thoroughly assess and validate claims of various Covid-19 medications — particularly Ivermectin — in accordance with existing laws and regulations to ascertain the safety and efficacy of these drugs.
Meantime the senator also expressed concern for the families who have been affected by the re-imposition of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region Plus areas and appealed to the Department of Social Welfare and Development and affected local government units to expedite the distribution of the Supplemental Amelioration Program to an estimated 22.9 million low-income Filipinos.
Around P23 billion was sourced from the balance of the Bureau of Treasury’s certified sources under the ‘Bayanihan to Recover as One Act’ following an earlier appeal from Go for the provision of additional aid to poor families affected by the imposed ECQ measures.
Go also explained that government finance managers still have to identify fund sources and thoroughly assess the financial situation of the country amid the growing needs of Filipinos, but expressed his support for the Senate to tackle the proposed Bayanihan 3 once sources of funding have been identified, whether through a special session or during the regular session when Congress resumes in May.
For now, Go said that any available fund should be maximized and utilized immediately to help Filipinos recover from the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic.
The senator also appealed to the concerned agencies to implement urgent interventions to protect the welfare of poor and vulnerable sectors and stressed that saving the lives of Filipinos — which includes addressing hunger and poverty — must be the primordial concern of the government.