GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 July) — The Department of Health (DOH) is investing an additional P63 million this year to facilitate the expansion and development of the South Cotabato provincial hospital annex in Surallah town into a regional medical center.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Friday such funding will cover for the necessary improvements and the acquisition of the initial equipment for the hospital, which is slated to open before the end of the year.
“More funds will come in later on as we continue with its development as a regional center of health care in this part of the country,” he said.
Ona led on Friday morning the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with South Cotabato officials for the takeover by the DOH of the hospital’s operations.
The MOA signing was made during the culmination program of South Cotabato’s 15th T’nalak Festival and 48th foundation anniversary held at the provincial sports complex in Koronadal City.
Ona signed the agreement on behalf of the DOH while South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes represented the province.
Senate President Franklin Drilon, the festival’s keynote speaker, and Surallah Mayor Antonio Bendita acted as witnesses.
Under the agreement, the DOH will fully assume the administration and management of the hospital as well as its expansion and development.
The DOH will officially rename the facility from the current Upper Valley Community Hospital into Surallah Municipal Hospital.
Ona said the agency will introduce several reforms that will make the hospital’s operations “a partnership between the national government, local government units and the private sector.”
Since the facility will be developed into a regional hospital or medical center, he said its development will include the participation of stakeholders of Region 12.
Also known as Soccsksargen, the region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
“The hospital will be operating under a corporate setup that will be spearheaded by the national government, through the DOH, but local stakeholders will have a role in how it will be run,” Ona said.
The DOH chief said they decided to pursue the conversion of the Surallah hospital into a regional medical center to bring quality and affordable health services to residents in the greater part of Region 12.
DOH Region 12 presently operates two regional hospitals in Cotabato City but they mainly cater to residents of the area and Maguindanao province, which is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“Once realized, residents in this part of the region will no longer need to travel to as far as Davao City just to get quality medical care and treatment,” Ona added.
As part of the MOA signing, Gov. Fuentes said the DOH has signified to invest around P500 million for the operationalization, expansion and further development of the hospital.
She said the DOH-12 has included in its proposed budget for 2015 the funding support for the staffing requirement of at least 347 hospital workers.
The provincial hospital annex sits on a five-hectare property beside the national highway in Barangay Dajay in Surallah that was donated by the municipal government.
The construction of the facility was completed late last year but its opening was put on hold by the provincial government due to funding problems.
The project’s first phase, which was funded by a P25-million grant from diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation, was initially completed in June last year.
The second phase was funded by a P28-million grant from the DOH’s health facilities enhancement program. (MindaNews)