Gov’t to improve health services in 5 tourism gems, remote areas

By Darryl John Esguerra

May 22, 2024, 3:20 pm

<p>Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa. <em>(PNA photo by Darryl John Esguerra)</em></p>

Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa. (PNA photo by Darryl John Esguerra)

MANILA – The government is taking steps to improve health care services in key tourism areas, particularly the five island gems, as well as in remote areas of the country.

In a Palace press briefing Wednesday, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. convened a sectoral meeting in Malacañang with health officials where they discussed the inclusion of the five gems of tourism in the hospital system beyond first aid.

The so-called five island gems are Coron, El Nido, Siargao, Panglao, and Boracay.

“These are the ones that we need to concentrate on and we will improve the care, not only of Filipinos but also of tourists that visit our five gems,” Herbosa said.

“Kasi GIDA (geographically isolated and disadvantaged) areas iyong mga island natin eh (Our islands are GIDAs). They are really in remote areas actually. So, ‘pag may tourist na nagkasakit or na-injure (once a tourist gets sick or injured), you can actually see na malayo sila doon sa health center (that they are quite far from the health centers). So, we are trying to remedy that with (Tourism) Secretary Frasco.”

More BUCAS centers, mobile clinics

During the meeting, health officials presented the development of the Bagong Urgent Care and Ambulatory Services or BUCAS Centers, which are mid-level diagnostic and therapeutic centers to be put up at the community level in areas more than two hours away from a regional hospital.

Herbosa said there are 10 operational BUCAS centers nationwide while eight more are expected to open in the next few months.

“We are targeting as much as 28 for this administration but I think we will exceed that because now, I have 79 proposals from different regional offices,” he said.

The health chief also said that the Department of Health (DOH) is procuring mobile clinics to serve as immediate health care facilities for remote areas.

To complement these initiatives, the DOH is also launching the Purok Kalusugan Program to revitalize primary health care in the community by going down at the barangay level.

Women’s health

The meeting, according to Herbosa, also tackled the importance of women’s health in the overall health of the Filipino population.

He said the President supports the idea of emphasizing women’s role in breast cancer detection and treatment, and HPV vaccination, among others.

He said women are the health care system’s “force multipliers” as they are the ones ensuring the health of the members of the family. (PNA)