To improve public healthcare services, experts recommend scholarship, additional equipment

A delegation of experts from Toyo University in Japan recommended to the Cebu Provincial Government the creation of a scholarship loan program and purchase of additional equipment to help address the public healthcare concerns among the province’s district hospitals.

The scholarship loan program, based on the recommendation, will offer prospective students the chance to pursue nursing or medicine. Under this possible scheme, they are exempted from repaying the loans but they must commit to serve in the district hospitals.

The team also recommended a step-ladder program that already exists in the University of the Philippines Manila School of Health Sciences in Leyte. The program is designed to transform scholars into competent health workers who will serve in the remote or depressed areas. Beneficiaries can progress from being health workers to nurses or doctors.

District hospitals lack health professional workers because many of them opt to work outside the country or in Metro Cebu.

According to Dr. Cairo of Oslob, doctors rarely work in remote areas because opportunities to develop further their skills are limited. Lack of equipment and accommodation are other possible reasons.

On the lack of equipment, Toyo University’s recommendation is for the district hospitals to use second hand equipment from Japan. They also suggested that before the government decides to purchase any medical equipment, a detailed medical study should be done.

After discovering that some patients seeking good quality medical treatment are living far from big and private hospitals in Metro Cebu, the research team suggested an innovative approach using technology to accommodate them.

Part of this is using cellular phones for diagnosis as well as installing a telemedicine system. With technology, health workers in the communities can exercise pregnancy check-ups while doctors in nearby cities can diagnose the disease or prescribe medicines to the patients over a computer screen.

The research study also suggested quick and easy check-up at the bus terminals and supermarkets. The 3-10-minute check-ups will include blood and sugar test and vascular density test, among others. The results can be checked online or through mobile phones. This action, if followed, can advocate to the public the significance of early detection and prevention.

Toyo University pointed out, however, that these recommendations should not be treated as the final answers or solutions of the health issues in the province.

Sam Tabuchi, director of Asia Public-Private Partnership Institute at Toyo University, said that his team is only here for the research study.

The final report of the research study from the PPP Cebu Project Team of Toyo University is expected to be finished this March.

Resident doctors and municipal officials who were present during the presentation were very thankful to the provincial government’s initiatives to develop and improve health and social services in the entire island.

Toyo University’s research team for health and hospital concerns led by Tsuyoshi Hara and Takashi Tokue spent a week-long site and visit and study. Accompanied by representatives from the Provincial Health Office and Provincial Planning and Development Office, they visited province-owned hospitals in Carcar City, Oslob, Malabuyoc, Tuburan, Bogo City and Danao City.

In Carcar District Hospital, Dr. Evelyn Familgan, resident doctor, and Teresita Blanco, head nurse of the hospital, showed the facilities, wards and systems. Familgan said they lack some facilities and equipment but they have personnel who can perform medical duties. During scheduled operations, they usually borrow medical equipment from other primary care units in the province.

Dr. Renato Cairo of Oslob District Hospital showed the delegation their newly-renovated rooms but admitted they still have limited facilities. Cairo said that although the district hospital is on its renovation phase, funded by the Department of Health, it still lacks equipment.

Dr. Margarita Lambo of M.J. Cuenco Memorial Hospital in Malabuyoc shared that it is difficult for her to request doctors from Metro Cebu since it will take them around three hours to travel from the city to Malabuyoc. Lambo prefers to seek help from the doctors in Siliman University in Dumaguete since the travel will only take 40-45 minutes.

In 2014, Gov. Davide signed a memorandum of understanding during a visit in Japan, inviting Tabuchi and his team for a research visit in the province. Health and social services, which is part of the governor’s six-point development agenda, is one of the priorities of the study.