MANILA -- The head of the National Center for Geriatric Health (NCGH) is appealing to the Department of Health (DOH) to help enact a law that would institutionalize the hospital's operations, stressing the importance of providing care for the elderly.

Dr. Melhammid Tomawis, chairman of the NCGH, made the appeal during the celebration of the hospital's eight-year anniversary Wednesday in San Miguel, Manila.

"Hopefully this is the right time that DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III can help in the enactment of a law that will make it as real hospital for the senior citizens," said Tomawis in a speech.

He said the absence of such law hinders the hospital from fulfilling its mission to be a geriatric hospital, as he expressed hope that NCGH would eventually become a full-fledged hospital that caters to the elderly.

"Once NCGH becomes a full-fledged hospital, this will be the health center for senior citizens, they can be confined here since there will be an ICU, a multi-disciplinary geriatrics, rehabilitation services, etc. There will be more services to be offered," he said in Filipino.

He said the hospital has not yet achieved the vision to be the country's first geriatric center, as it has limited capabilities and cannot admit patients with complex cases.

"(Right now) If an elderly got a heart attack, can he/she be rushed here? No, because we are lacking the facilities. It cannot operate because there is no law," he said. "We have to put an end to this. It is disheartening to see that this hospital which is just in the tip of Malacañang is not yet able to do its real purpose," he added.

Tomawis said institutionalizing the NCGH requires a law passed by the Congress or through an executive order (EO) duly signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Since 2010, Tomawis said they have lobbied to Congress and the Office of the President, through different forms of communication, materials for the institutionalization of the NCGH but seems not given attention by authorities.

The NCGH is the country's first senior citizen hospital established on May 16, 2010 during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The 8th founding anniversary was supported by different groups by offering different services such as massage, acupuncture, hair cut, and acupressure, among others.

The News and Information Bureau, an attached agency of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, also provided snacks for the senior citizens who attended the event as part of its annual commitment in advocating for the welfare of the senior citizens and disadvantaged groups. (PNA)