Manila Water: Hospitals will be ‘top priority’ during shortage

Sofia Tomacruz
Manila Water: Hospitals will be ‘top priority’ during shortage

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says Manila Water assured him that hospitals would have enough water supply, given that 'lives are at stake'

MANILA, Philippines – Ayala-led Manila Water gave assurances that hospitals will be “top priority” for water supply amid the shortage that has hit parts of Metro Manila and Rizal.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Manila Water chief operating officer Geodino Carpio told him in a meeting on Tuesday, March 12, that government hospitals serviced by the company will have sufficient supply so as not to compromise patient care. (READ: Malacañang eyes executive order to address water shortage)

“Manila Water has assured me that the DOH (Department of Health) hospitals will not run out of water and they will be making water deliveries for as long as necessary,” Duque said on Wednesday, March 13, in a press conference at the Rizal Medical Center (RMC) in Pasig City, which has been badly hit by the shortage.

Parts of Metro Manila and Rizal have been experiencing low water pressure to no supply at all since last Thursday, March 7, interrupting the daily routines of thousands. (READ: [ANALYSIS] The economics of Metro Manila’s burgeoning water crisis)

Why this matters: Among those most affected by the shortage have been hospitals, where water is crucial for daily activities such as surgeries, the delivery of babies, dialysis, and basic hygiene and sanitation.

Duque said the most affected hospitals include RMC, the National Center for Mental Health, and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. Aside from these, the Philippine Children’s Medical Center and Quirino Memorial Medical Center are being monitored due to low water supply.

“We cannot compromise the health of our patients. Our hospitals depend on the water supply for the hygiene and sanitation of our patients,” the DOH chief said.

“Lives are at stake and we need everybody’s cooperation,” he added. (READ: EXPLAINER: What caused Manila Water’s service problems?)

Impact on patients: At RMC, the availability of water – or lack thereof – can spell the difference between being able to care for more patients or delay treatment.

RMC chief Relito Saquilayan said the hospital had to cut back on its operations after it first experienced a water shortage last Thursday evening.

“Right now, we’re experiencing really a shortage of water. Yesterday we asked the obstetrics and gynecology [department how they were coping with the shortage] and [they said] the patients are buying water just to be used [for them]. We had to temporarily stop our dialysis and we tried to look for service facilities where they can be treated,” Saquilayan said.

RMC also had to temporarily limit admissions, but this has since been lifted as of Tuesday. Saquilayan said, however, that if the water supply dips once more, the hospital may need to sort out a contingency plan again.

In order to address the shortage, the DOH and RMC have resorted to filling up tanks as an immediate solution. This will be followed by a short-term solution, Duque said, where Manila Water plans to rotate water supply in areas following a specific schedule. (READ: Manila Water on the hunt for new water sources)

The DOH considers RMC as its model for the government’s response to water shortage in hospitals. Duque said whatever solutions put in place at RMC will be replicated in all other hospitals moving forward. –

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.