Bills to boost inoculation drive, OHCC get House panel approval


To help the government in the fight against Covid-19, the House Committee on Health on Wednesday approved a bill strengthening, expanding and institutionalizing the existing One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) and a measure allowing registered dentists and licensed medical technologists as additional vaccinators.

Committee  Chairman and Quezon Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan said the approval of her proposed “National Patient Navigation and Referral System Act” would ensure effective and efficient health facility referral in Metro Manila through a comprehensive and coordinated response to the pandemic.

According to Tan, the referral system measure is urgently necessary to bridge the current fragmented health system in terms of service delivery across the spectrum of care by gatekeeping and navigating patients.

The bill will institutionalize and broaden the scope of the One Hospital Command System to become the National Patient Navigation and Referral System (NPNRS). Its implementing arm, the National Patient Navigation and Referral Center (NPNRC) and the Regional Patient Navigation and Referral Centers (RPNRC) will expand its scope to navigate patients through the different levels of health system to reach and access appropriate health facilities.

The NPNRC will also link with the Malasakit Centers across different health facilities to ensure financial risk protection, particularly for the indigent and financially incapacitated patients.

“With its institutionalization, the NPNRS is geared to re-define and reform the nature of the health delivery system of the Philippines to become more responsive and towards greater equity, accessibility, and quality,” Tan said.

During the hearing, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo J. Vega said the agency is supporting the approval of the measure.

“The NPNRS will serve as a bridge between health-care facilities and the patients, supporting them to gain early access to the health services for better outcomes. The connectivity provided will be a breakthrough in the implementation of the Universal Health Care [UHC],” he said.
For her part, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said the establishment of a national referral system should start from barangay health stations and centers and rural health units.

According to Elago, the bill provides funding and resources only to the national and regional levels.

“[It] presumes that the LGUs will have the capabilities and necessary personnel and communication equipment and other resources needed for the implementation of the referral mechanisms,” she said.

“We believe that LGUs must likewise be supported for the procurement and utilization of communication equipment, mobile phones, computers, ambulances as well as additional funding for mobile health teams for transport and expansion of access to telecommunication services,” Elago added.

Beyond establishing a national referral system, Elago also said the issues and problems on organizational and financial or fiscal fragmentation must be primarily addressed and resolved in order to support and ensure the smooth flow of patient referrals.

“We hope that this will not only be dependent on technology as many remote areas have no reliable or stable access to telecommunication and Internet services,” she added.

Additional vaccinators

Meanwhile, Tan also said her committee has approved her House Bill 9354 to amend Republic Act 11525, otherwise known as the “Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021.”

She said the bill seeks to include duly registered dentists and licensed medical technologists who have received appropriate training from the DOH as additional vaccinators beside licensed pharmacists and registered midwives.

The bill was co-authored by Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte and Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo.

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