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MANILA, Philippines – More than a year after emphasizing in his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) the importance of creating specialty hospitals across the country, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed a law last Thursday, August 24, designating the health department to create regional specialty centers instead of specialty hospitals.
The Palace announced Marcos’ approval of the law – Republic Act (RA) 11959 or “An Act Establishing Specialty Centers in Department of Health Hospitals in Every Region and in Government-owned or -Controlled Corporation Specialty Hospitals and Appropriating Funds Therefor” – in a press release on Tuesday, August 29.
RA 11958 consolidates separate bills passed by the two chambers of Congress. It was approved by both the House and the Senate on May 31, 2023, or before it went on a months-long break.
The law mandates the Department of Health (DOH) to create specialty centers in DOH hospitals in every region, as well as in government-owned or -controlled hospitals. Priorities include “cancer care, cardiovascular care, lung care, renal care and kidney transplant, brain and spine care, trauma care and burn care.”
Specialty centers are also meant to provide “orthopedic care, physical rehabilitation medicine, infectious disease and tropical medicine, toxicology, mental health, geriatric care, neonatal care, dermatology, eye care, and ear, nose, and throat care.”
It’s unclear if the law will already be funded in the proposed 2024 budget, which is already being deliberated upon by Congress. The Palace has yet to respond to media inquiries on the funding of the regional health care centers.
These centers, according to the law, will be classified as National Specialty Centers (NSCs), Advanced Comprehensive Specialty Centers (ACSCs), and Basic Comprehensive Specialty Centers (BCSCs), based on the Philippine Health Facility Development Plan.
The implementing rules and regulations of the law, to be crafted by the DOH, will be released within 60 days of the law’s effectivity. The law takes effect two weeks from August 29. – Rappler.com