SEN. Raffy Tulfo on Tuesday threatened to cut the annual budgetary allotment of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and channel part of it to the cash-starved National Children’s Hospital (NCH), a vital facility for sick children.
The senator moved to trim DENR’s budget, citing its alleged “failure to carry out some key mandates” under questioning during the period of amendments in the ongoing plenary deliberation on the proposed 2023 national budget bill.
Tulfo, in moving to raise the budget for NCH reminded that the hospital facility serves children from the poorest families dealing with the most serious pediatric cases that is not receiving enough support from the government.
In his privilege speech on Monday, Tulfo divulged what he found to be an “appalling and heartbreaking situation” in the children’s hospital that, he said, “adversely affects its patients, such as its lack of manpower, below industry standard facilities, and outdated or lacking equipment.”
At the same time, the senator prodded the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and “my esteemed colleagues to personally visit the hospital to witness its struggles firsthand.”
“Mr. President, the National Children’s Hospital, a health facility for the poorest and weakest, is in dire need of our help,” Tulfo pleaded, adding: “Kung paano naghihingalo ang mga pasyente doon, gayun din ang paghihingalo ng pasilidad at sitwasyon ng National Children’s Hospital.”
He added: “I invite you to visit this hospital para makita niyo kung gaano kalunus-lunos ang kalagayan ng mga pasyente doon. Nang makausap ko sila, wala daw pong bumibisita sa kanila na mga opisyal ng gobyerno. There is something wrong in the way they are treated and how the government handles them. They are not getting the help they must receive,” the senator lamented.
Moving to promptly remedy the dire situation, the Senator sought to augment the NCH budget by sourcing it from underperforming government agencies.
A veteran broadcaster doing public service prior to his election as senator, Tulfo shared how the situation in NCH has not improved through the years, lamenting, “in fact has even gotten worse.”
In his recent visit to said hospital, Tulfo shared that the suffering of children and sorrow of parents accompanying them are “visibly apparent on their faces as they were lined up in the hospital’s cramped, hot and humid hallway which only compounded to their sufferings.”
For instance, the senator cited one case in particular that broke his heart as Tulfo recalled seeing a six-year-old boy with stage 4 liver cancer having a hard time breathing even if he already had an oxygen tank assisting him.
Tulfo shared that he was told that the patient was just waiting for his time to go.
Further discussing the problems hounding the hospital due to lack of budget, Tulfo said that NCH could not handle the number of patients that comes to them. He said that there is a three-year waiting time for some of the therapies being offered to the patients including PT, OT, and Speech therapy.
Tulfo said the hospital’s building, meanwhile, is dilapidated and its sorry state cannot properly accommodate children. He described: “May basag na bintana at plywood ang ipinangtatakip dito. There are not enough electric fans and no proper ventilation, and the windows have to be opened for fresh air. Sinabitan ng manipis na kurtina ang bintana marahil upang di makapasok ang mga lamok at alikabok!”
Moreover, the senator from Isabela and Davao shared that he noticed water stains from the hospital’s ceiling, which is a sign of water leak from the roof from the last rainfall.
Tulfo likewise recalled that the hospital’s therapy rooms are very small, which could not adequately accommodate children, thereby prompting doctors to instruct parents to just continue the therapy at home instead of having it two to three times a week at the hospital.