(Palawan News file photo)

The government intends to further improve primary healthcare in the country, with a particular emphasis on health promotion and avoiding disease, acute care, and the well-being of women.

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said in a press briefing in Malacañang that they will focus on this with the development of the Bagong Urgent Care and Ambulatory Services (BUCAS) centers, which are mid-level diagnostic and therapeutic that will give primary care or first contact in communities that are two hours away from regional hospitals.

These centers will be managed by doctors from DOH regional hospitals, which they started in January this year. Herbosa said they now have 10 BUCAS centers across the country and they expect to open eight more in the following months.

“We are targeting as much as 28 for this administration, but I think we will exceed that because I have 79 proposals from our regional offices,” he said, explaining that attached to these are the launchings of mobile clinics that will support BUCAS.

He also stated that they are launching the Purok Kalusugan Program, which aims to revitalize primary healthcare in communities and extend it to the barangay and the purok levels.

Herbosa stated that in order to meet these aims, they will need approximately 190,000 people to “fill in the gaps” in the healthcare system, as many had left and gone overseas to work.

The good news, he noted, is that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) recently confirmed that 20 state universities and colleges (SUCs) will graduate new medical students this year.

“Malaking improvement yon from a previous of eight in the past administration,” he said.

They are also strengthening primary healthcare in the five tourism gems or hotspots that require it—Coron, El Nido, Siargao, Panglao, and Boracay—to care for both Filipinos and visitors.

Herbosa said this is due to them being Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs).

“They are in remote areas, actually,” the health chief said.