Quality health services provided thru BUCAS centers, mobile clinics

2024 July 3

BAGONG PILIPINAS MOBILE CLINICS. Mobile clinics are deployed in this undated photo to bring various healthcare services to provinces starting July 2024. Each of the mobile clinics has digital X-Ray, CT-Scan, ultrasound, hematology analyzer for blood tests, binocular microscope, ophthalmoscope for eye tests, lab-grade refrigerator, and telemedicine equipment. (Photo courtesy of Presidential Communications Office)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) has delivered affordable and quality healthcare services closer to communities through the Bagong Urgent Care and Ambulatory Service (BUCAS) centers this year.

In a pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) special interview on Wednesday, DOH Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said management of provincial and district hospitals as well as barangay health centers is entrusted to local government executives under the local government code.

However, he said 80 to 90 percent of the mayors do not have management capacity and 80 to 90 percent of municipalities are classified as fifth or sixth class that do not have funds for salaries of doctors and nurses and for the purchase of medicines.

“So, dito ngayon tutulong ang national government (So this is where the national government will help),” he said.

He said the DOH has donated PHP400 billion to local government units for the health facility enhancement over 10 years and yet these facilities still lack doctors and medical equipment.

To address the ambulatory medical and surgical care needs of Filipinos, the BUCAS centers have been established, with 22 already operating nationwide.

The first BUCAS center opened in Santo Tomas, Pampanga on March 6 and over 70 centers are now being established in other parts of the country.

Apart from general surgery, oral-maxillofacial surgery, otorhinolaryngologic surgery, and reproductive health services, the BUCAS centers have laboratories with comprehensive diagnostic capabilities.

“Anong different? Department of Health ang nagpapatakbo, kasi kapag sa local government, sila nag-employ, every three years nag-e-eleksiyon tayo (What’s different? The DOH runs them. If it is the local governments that employ, we have election for every three years),” Herbosa said.

“So, ang mga doktor ayaw na magtrabaho sa local government, kasi kung ‘yung mayor na mananalo ay ibang mayor, fired lahat kayo, palit lahat ng doktor (So, the doctors don’t want to work in local governments, because all of them will be fired and replaced if a new mayor wins the election),” he added.

To augment the healthcare services provided by the BUCAS centers, the DOH and First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos have distributed seven out of 83 mobile clinics to provincial governors in Central Luzon in June.

This initiative aims to bring healthcare services closer to the people especially those in remote areas in the provinces of Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, and Zambales and to promote preventive health for everyone.

The mobile clinics are equipped with medical equipment, including digital X-Ray, CT-Scan, Ultrasound, hematology analyzer for blood tests, binocular microscope, ophthalmoscope for eye tests, lab-grade refrigerator, and telemedicine equipment.

Herbosa said recipients of the mobile clinics are required to have a weekly schedule of their healthcare services.

In August 2023, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed Republic Act 11959 or the Regional Specialty Centers Act to bring specialized healthcare services closer to people in various regions.

The DOH is mandated to form specialized facilities within the hospitals nationwide and in specialty hospitals managed by the government.

To ensure wider access to specialized healthcare services, the national government has allocated PHP1.2 billion budget for the network expansion of specialty centers.

As for the health emergency allowance (HEA) of healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, Herbosa said the PHP27 billion may be released within the year.

He added that there would be no allocated budget for the HEA under the 2025 National Expenditure Program since the Department of Budget and Management would be able to have the fund for it this year.

Citing that some healthcare workers apply for medical assistance for indigent patients when they are sick, Herbosa said the DBM has approved an additional PHP5,000 for enrolment to a health maintenance organization (HMO).

“May additional money to get additional HMO, kasi kung PhilHealth lang parang mga 30 percent lang dun ang nababayaran ng ospital, maglalabas ka pa ng out of pocket (There is additional money to get additional HMO, PhilHealth pays only 30 percent of hospital bills, you’ll still pay out of pocket),” he said.

Ma. Teresa Montemayor (PNA)