GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/22 February)– The national government has allocated around P26 million for the expansion and upgrading of the facilities of two community hospitals and several other rural health stations in South Cotabato province.
South Cotabato (2nd District) Rep. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said Friday the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has approved the financial assistance as part of the government’s continuing health facilities enhancement initiatives in rural areas.
She said the assistance was specifically set aside for the purchase of additional equipment for the local government-run hospitals in Norala and Lake Sebu towns as well as the repair, renovation and expansion of other rural health stations and barangay health centers in the province.
These initiatives were part of a list of health-related community infrastructure projects that the province’s second congressional district office had sought for funding from the national government for this year, she said.
Fuentes said the Lake Sebu municipal hospital will receive P7 million while the Norala district hospital will get P8.5 million for their equipment upgrading.
She said Lake Sebu town will receive an additional P2 million for the repair and renovation of its rural health unit (RHU) while the RHUs in Banga and Surallah towns will get P2.5 million and P1.5 million, respectively, for their expansion projects.
She said another P4.5 million or P1.5 million each was allocated for the expansion of the health centers in Purok Tagumpay in Koronadal City, Barangay New Cuyapo in Tantangan town and in Barangay Simsiman in Norala.
“These were already funded and we’re hoping that the implementation phase could begin before the May 13 elections,” Fuentes said.
She assured that the projects “will be fully funded and implemented even after the upcoming midterm local and national elections without regard to its results. “
“In fact, we’re following up some of our other project proposals for health infrastructure that could also be funded and implemented later this year,” she said.
Meantime, Fuentes urged the local government to rationalize the planned equipment upgrading at the Lake Sebu municipal hospital with the impending transfer of some of its personnel to the Allah Valley Community Hospital in Surallah town.
“Instead of putting in additional funds for the Lake Sebu hospital, it might be better if we just focus on further expanding the Allah Valley hospital and pursue its development into a regional medical center,” she said.
The Allah Valley hospital, which is undergoing construction, is due for completion by the end of the year or early next year.
The construction of the facility is partly funded by the Department of Health and a grant from business conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC).
SMC has been building up its presence in the province following its acquisition of a major coal mining project in Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu town.
Sultan Energy Philippines Corp. sold its coal mine project in Lake Sebu in June 2011 to SMC, which also holds the coal operating contract of Daguma Agro Minerals Inc. in the same area. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)