Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
The visit of the United States Navy’s 1,000 bed floating hospital USNS Mercy that conducted medical missions in Visayas and Mindanao last month has led Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento to urge the government to invest in a hospital ship with at least 100 beds to reach out to remote poor communities nationwide.
Rep. Sarmeinto believes that poor people of a country with more than 7,000 islands, many of which have no hospitals to serve far-flung shoreline areas, could benefit from a medium-size hospital ship. A mobile hospital can also be of great help during times of disasters and other calamities, especially for island provinces. He suggests that the government should include in its US-funded military acquisition list a floating hospital that can be run by the Philippine Navy and the Department of Health.
A floating hospital makes sense for an archipelago like the Philippines. It can roam the country and within days provide support or improve the medical capabilities of any coastal area it is deployed to. It can be particularly useful when epidemics hit certain areas or during times of disasters or catastrophes that can severely strain the resources the local hospitals of the affected areas. Sending a fully staffed and properly equipped hospital ship to disaster areas would be a marked improvement from our current practice of sending only relief goods and medical supplies.
Take for example case of the district hospital in Guihulngan that was rendered unusable by the powerful earthquake that struck the area early this year. Because our government does not have a hospital ship available for immediate deployment to the area, the people of the area affected b