Bongbong Marcos on Health Care and the Pandemic. Presidential candidate Ferdinand Romualdez ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr., recently held a press conference gathering mainstream and social media from Regions V and VI. Among topics discussed include disaster response, traditional and renewable energy, digital infrastructure, agriculture, and infrastructure development. One of the highlighted topics under disaster response includes health care capacity and pandemic response.
The COVID-19 pandemic in the country, as of April 27, has resulted in 3,684,835 reported cases. As of date (April 28), there are 53,934 active cases and 56,351 deaths. In terms of vaccination, a total of 2,921,196 doses were administered.
Here, presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos bares his thoughts on the country’s health care system, pandemic response, and medical professionals. He also expressed that he will back the hiring and empowerment of non-board passer medical graduates as additional health workforce. Such individuals will be given an opportunity to earn while contributing to healthcare and, at the same time, have hands-on experience while preparing for the board exams. Related: Bongbong Marcos on Iloilo – Guimaras – Negros Bridge
On COVID response
“COVID has taught us many lessons – very hard lessons about the weaknesses in our healthcare system here in the Philippines. Nakita naman natin kabilis napuno. I know I have said it before but I will repeat, it was very surprising to me to hear or to find out that the government has not filled any large scale hospital since 1985 and that’s why napakinabangan nung dumating yung COVID yung malalaking hospital kagaya ng Kidney Center, Heart Center, Children’s Hospital, Lung Center, and doon napunta ang mga pasyente dahil yun nalang ang may malaking facilities,” begins Marcos, stressing the lack of healthcare facilities for those in farflung areas.
“Kaya kailangan natin dagdagan ang ating kakayahan sa health care – and that includes building more regional hospitals and even provincial hospitals. Marami tayong naririnig, nababalitaan na mga lugar na noong may na COVID eh ang layo layo pa na hindi kaya ng kanilang ospital, yung ospital nila 50 beds lang, malaki na yung 100 beds, dadalhin pa nila sa regional hospital hahanap ng site – malaking problema. Especially since COVID was very infectious. So, we really have to put more large hospitals in the regional centers, in the provincial centers, rather in the population centers kung saan marami ang tao,” he adds.
On scholarship for healthcare professionals
“The other element of this is… for our nurses and our doctors. Meron yun tinatawag na brain drain dahil yung mga doctor natin, mga nurse natin – ay ang kanilang ambition talaga ay pumunta sa abroad doon magtrabaho dahil talagang mas malaki ang kanilang kinikita nila pag doon sila. So what do we do to keep our doctors, our nurses, our tech meds here in the Philippines na hindi umaalis. Hindi mo naman mapigilan ang tao kung sila ay nakahanap ng mas magandang pwesto. Sabihin mo hindi ka pwede pumunta, hindi maari yun. So, what we had before was scholarship programs for health professionals and we provide scholarships, ang pambayad ng estudyante ay kapag nag graduate na sila ay maiiwan muna sila sa Pilipinas at pwede silang i-assign sa mga malalayong lugar kung saan hindi makakakita ng doktor – yung tinatawag natin na barefoot doctors na kung saan saan pinapapunta – kahit rural, kahit malayo ay nakakapunta sila. That’s one element that I think will help,” he continues.
“The other thing that I’ve seen, nakikita ko sa local government na kailangan ng malaking tulong is the Rural Health Unit. And siguro yun is to put a small rural health unit in every barangay or every clustered barangay para meron tayo clinic doon na binibisita ng doktor, eto na ngayon ating mga barefoot doctors – binibisita ng doctor every mga two to three times a week – doctor, nurse, siguro midwife. Diyan naman talaga – yan naman talaga mga critical. So, hindi na kailiangan, kung maliit lang ang problema ng pasyente, hindi na kailangan magpunta pa sa malayo, sa poblacion, sa sentro. Pwede na doon sa clinic na yun,” he further explain.
On COVID pandemic
“More specifically, in terms of of a pandemic, marami na tayong natutunan sa COVID, we have to improve our testing – mahina yung naging testing natin and tracing. Nagsimula sa test, trace and treat – so we have to follow that in a state of pandemic. We have to find out first what is the real science. Nakita natin naman ang COVID. Kung ano ano mga nababasa natin sa internet na kalokohan na hindi naman talaga totoo, nakakasakit pa. Kailangan meron tayo magandang pagka-unawa sa problema at pwede natin i-disseminate. We have to roll out an immunization program again. I think the experience of COVID shows us na kaya ng LGU, pero dapat supportahan ng mabuti nga national government. Kaya ng LGU kung papaano gagawin. The performance of the LGUs, especially down to the barangay level has been exemplary, I have to say. With what the LGUs have to work with, they came through, yung vaccination program, doon natin idaan. As much as possible we try to develop these medicines, these vaccines locally. Or, come to an agreement with a big pharmaceutical company na dito iproduce para mabilis natin maibigay sa taong bayan para mag immunize kaagad. Hindi ganito katagal na dalawang taon pa akala natin tapos na, mukhang may bumabalik naman. Kaya yun ang ating mga kailingan bantayan. Those are the basic elements for health care and the specific elements for the pandemic,” he concludes.