HOUSE Minority Leader Marcelino “Nonoy” Libanan urged Malacañang to designate a permanent Secretary of Health who should be tasked to quickly modernize the country’s healthcare system and position the Philippines as a global medical hub just like Singapore.
“The Philippines has all the assets needed, including highly trained physicians, nurses, medical technologists and pharmacists, to advance as an international medical center for foreign patients looking for world-class healthcare,” Libanan said.
“In fact, Filipino healthcare professionals are also admired around the world as the most caring. We have to capitalize on this,” Libanan said.
Though a lawyer by profession, Libanan also holds a degree in medical technology.
“We should aspire to be like Singapore, which receives more than 160,000 foreign patients who undergo over 70 kinds of medical treatments or procedures every year. In fact, a growing number of wealthy Filipinos are already flying to Singapore just to seek medical treatment. This is not just about medical tourism. This is also about providing every Filipino, rich or poor, access to world-class medical treatment services through our public health system,” Libanan said.
The Department of Health (DOH) is currently led by Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire as officer-in-charge.
A permanent DOH chief is needed to lead the country in the race for world-class healthcare, according to Libanan.
Libanan called for effective public-private partnerships to put the Philippines at the forefront of medical developments.
“We must also develop complimentary medical research and education capacities through international collaborations,” Libanan said.
“If necessary, Congress should provide tax incentives to lure new international medical schools and research facilities to operate here,” Libanan said.
Libanan likewise pressed for a multi-year program to simultaneously modernize the UP-Philippine General Hospital, Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and the Lung Center of the Philippines, among others.
“The DOH should further develop our specialty hospitals as global centers of excellence in healthcare,” Libanan said.