DOH mulls Covid Referral Network to integrate PH healthcare system

The Department of Health (DOH) plans to expand its current ONE Hospital Command Center to ONE COVID Referral Network to serve more patients nationwide.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the upgrade will integrate the healthcare system – from the lower-level facilities beginning with Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams, isolation treatment facilities, infirmaries, up to district hospitals levels 1 to 3.

“It will require a much more sophisticated navigation system and coupled with a database management system. Corollary to that, under the Universal Healthcare Law, primary care facilities are being pursued. There is a delay because of the Covid-19 pandemic but this is one of the immediate deliverables under the Universal Healthcare Law,” Duque said in a news release.

The DOH Secretary has expressed confidence the establishment of ONE COVID Referral Network will enable the government to better respond to the health needs of Filipinos, particularly in linking Covid-19 patients with healthcare facilities.

The government had required public and private hospitals since last year to increase their bed capacity – 20% in private hospitals and 30% in government hospitals.

The DOH has set up the ONE Hospital Command Center and is  now trying to improve the system in terms of the number of personnel and the upgrade of its telecommunication. It has also undertaken augmentation of medicines and medical supplies for Covid-19 patients.

The National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19, meanwhile, has kewise outlined the government’s multi-pronged strategy to build up vaccine inventory and accelerate the implementation of the immunization program.

For 2021, the NTF said their strategy focused on containment of the virus by ensuring vaccine supply availability and strategic vaccination through mobilization national resources, including those of the national government, the local government units, and the private sector.

The government, it said, intends to raise the number of inoculations from 500,000 to 1 million per week which might be increased to 2 million to 3 million per week once the country has sufficient vaccine doses by Junen since 2,497 vaccination sites have already been established in 771 cities and municipalities.

Quezon City Representative (4th District) Helen Tan, chair of the Committee on Health, supported the NTF position and said they have already passed the National Health Security Act.

The bill, a merged version of House Bills 6493 and 6081 filed by Tan and Muntinlupa Lone District Representative Ruffy Biazon, respectively, calls for the creation of a Philippine National Health Security Council.

The council will be tasked to craft a national health security plan which, according to Tan in an earlier statement, “captures national priorities for health security, brings sectors together, identifies partners and allocates resources for health security capacity development.”