COTABATO CITY – Recognizing the immediate need to improve health facilities in the Bangsamoro region, three proposed measures to upgrade and create hospitals in the provinces of Maguindanao and Sulu entered first reading.
The bills’ authors stressed that it is the responsibility of the Bangsamoro government to ensure everyone has access to quality healthcare.
Currently, the Datu Odin Sinsuat District Hospital in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte, only has a 50-bed capacity.
BTA Bill No. 146, also known as Upgrading Datu Odin Sinsuat District Hospital 2023, aims to increase that number to 100 beds as well as improve the hospital’s infrastructure, quality of healthcare, and number of staff.
It is principally authored by MPs Susana Anayatin and Engr. Baintan Adil-Ampatuan.
“With the outnumbered professional medical staff and personnel, patients are deemed deprived of their right to proper medical attention and intervention for quick response to their recovery and recuperation,” they said.
Statistics indicate that the DOS District Hospital’s expansion was spurred by the surrounding Maguindanao municipality with the biggest population.
The hospital has evolved into a referring unit from the surrounding communities and has occasionally taken on a large volume of cases and patients from other neighboring municipalities.
Another bill, known as Establishment of Datu Piang Municipal Hospital, or BTA Bill No. 147, authored by the same women legislators and MP Arch. Eduardo Guerra, seeks to establish and construct a level 1 municipal hospital with a 50-bed capacity in Datu Piang, Maguindanao del Sur.
The lawmakers explained that government hospitals are “more ideal and well-encouraged than private hospitals in many aspects,” including access to more medical professionals, the efficiency of facilities, and the technology that only a government hospital can provide.
There are 28,380 people living in Datu Piang as of the 2020 census, yet the only government building there is the Datu Piang Rural Health Unit.
According to the bill, the Datu Piang Municipal Hospital will primarily serve patients of Datu Piang, but it will also supplement and support the care provided by hospitals in neighboring communities if and when the need arises.
Meanwhile, MPs Adzfar Usman and Amilbahar Mawallil also proposed building a 50-bed, level 1 general hospital in Talipao, Sulu.
In the bill’s explanatory note, the main authors of PB No. 149 said that Talipao lacks a hospital, with only barangay health stations and rural health units now available to serve the municipality’s residents.
Patients “in need of emergency medical interventions” will have to travel to the municipality of Jolo to be attended to and admitted to a hospital, they said.
They added that the data present shows that there is a high mortality rate in Talipao, which can be attributed to the lack of available healthcare facilities.
With 52 barangays and 100,088 residents, Talipao is one of the largest municipalities in Sulu. However, getting there requires a combination of sea and air travel from Zamboanga City.
The Sulu Integrated Provincial Health Office will have direct administrative and technical oversight of the facility.
Once enacted, Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act will require three hospitals to integrate all the pertinent and relevant provisions into their systems of operations.
The hospitals will be under the administrative supervision of the Minister of Health, who is authorized to determine and approve the appropriate organizational structure for the management and operations of the facility.
To date, the Bangsamoro Parliament has enacted bills that will construct and upgrade hospitals in the towns of Binidayan and Wao in Lanao del Sur, Buluan in Maguindanao del Sur, Datu Blah Sinsuat in Maguindanao del Norte, and Maimbung in Sulu. (LTAIS-Public Information, Publication, and Media Relations Division)