MANILA, Philippines — The COVID-19 pandemic should force the government to put in more resources in the healthcare system with the support of the private sector to better prepare for future crises.

The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center said the health and economic crisis due to the pandemic has put a renewed spotlight on the urgent need to invest in healthcare delivery.

Since last year, the pandemic has been exposing the severe weakness in health systems globally, and exacerbated gaps in quality and service of healthcare.

The Philippines, for one, did not escape the constraints experienced during the pandemic, especially at the height of surging COVID-19 cases.

The PPP Center emphasized that the passage of the Universal Health Care Act in 2019 serves as the legislative and regulatory framework for much-needed reforms in the health care system.

“As investments in healthcare can entail significant costs to the public sector, PPP is one of the possible delivery mechanisms for the government to achieve UHC and ensure resilient healthcare systems,” the PPP Center said.

“The public sector also stands to benefit from the efficiency gains, innovation, and expertise that the private sector can bring to healthcare systems,” it said.

In line with this, the attached agency of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has been pushing for two University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP PGH) projects that are expected to boost access to top-rated medical facilities.

These are the P21.3-billion UP PGH Diliman project and the P4.58-billion UP Manila Cancer Center project, which is part of the government’s flagship infrastructure projects.

Both health projects are undergoing evaluation and approval at the NEDA-Investment Coordination Committee.

The P21.3-billion UP PGH Diliman project seeks to build a world-class, 700-bed hospital with integrated healthcare, teaching, and research facilities and specialized services that are not readily available in other public hospitals.

It will also complement and enhance the capacity of UP PGH Manila in addressing the medical needs of the poor and the overcrowding concerns.

As a teaching and research hospital with multi-specialty capabilities, the Diliman project will house both the College of Medicine and the Genomic Cancer Research.

On the other hand, the P4.58-billion UP PGH Cancer Center, to be located in PGH Manila, will be the first dedicated cancer hospital in Metro Manila with a 200 to 300-bed capacity, providing affordable and international quality comprehensive cancer treatment for public and private patients.

Under a build-operate-transfer scheme, the cancer center will serve both charity and private patients.

The private sector partner will design, finance, construct and commission a greenfield hospital building with separate areas for charity patients and paying patients.

It will also provide equipment, undertake maintenance and facilities management, as well as all non-clinical services to the entire hospital over a proposed 30-year concession.