FORMER Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday said the government should undertake the construction of health centers and the recruitment of additional doctors in order to improve the country’s healthcare system. 

In an interview with RMN Cebu on May 18, Cayetano suggested the formulation of a five-or ten-year plan that would prioritize scholarships for aspiring doctors and the establishment of more barangay health centers.

  Mag-scholar tayo ng maraming (aspiring) doktor na completely paid in the next ten years. Tapos, in the next five years, tapusin natin ang lahat ng barangay health center at equipment. Tingin ko, magbabago talaga ang mukha ng ating healthcare system,” he said.

  (In the next ten years, let’s offer fully paid scholarships for aspiring doctors. And in the next five years, let’s complete our barangay health centers and equipment. I think this will change the face of our healthcare system.)

  Cayetano also lamented the lack of health centers throughout the country.

  Sa ngayon po, 18,000 barangays sa buong Pilipinas or 45 percent ng lahat ng barangay natin, walang barangay health center,” he said.

  (Right now, around 18,000 barangays or roughly 45 percent of all barangays in the country do not have barangay health centers.)

  The lawmaker also expressed his disappointment over the shortage of Filipino physicians, citing the alarming doctor-population ratio in the country.

  Ang Cuba, napakaliit na bansa pero 7.5 ang doktor nila sa bawat isang libong tao. Tayo po, nasa 0.35 doctors sa isang libong tao,” he said, adding that the World Health Organization’s ideal doctor-population ratio is one doctor per 1,000 individuals.

  (Cuba is a small country but they have 7.5 doctors per 1,000 people. We only have 0.35 doctors per 1,000.)

  Cayetano highlighted his home district’s major healthcare initiatives, such as the establishment of 31 PhilHealth-accredited health centers, including three super health centers, in Taguig.

  Having established its own quarantine facilities, molecular laboratory, and free COVID-19 testing services, Taguig currently has one of the lowest number of active COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region.

  Naging madali (ang COVID-19 response) kasi prepared na. So, sana ganun din gawin natin sa buong bansa,” he said.

  (Our COVID-19 response was easily rolled out because we were prepared. I hope that our sense of preparation can be replicated throughout the country.)