THE Cebu City Health Department (CHD) is in need of more doctors and midwives to cater to the city’s nearly one million residents.
CHD officer-in-charge Jeffrey Ibones said they only have 32 doctors, 20 of whom are on the field.
Ibones said the ideal number should be 70 with 60 assigned as field doctors, while the rest will handle different offices and programs under the CHD.
He said each field doctor handles more than five barangay health centers, including those in mountain barangays.
He said the ideal ratio should be one doctor for every 20,000 residents.
“Ideally, the health centers are close to each other but some are in the mountains,” he said in Cebuano.
Ibones said this is the reason doctors can only visit a certain barangay health center once or twice a week as they need to plot their schedule.
Ibones said health centers serve as the “defense line” to avoid congestion in hospitals in the city, especially with the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
As to midwives, Ibones said the ideal number is 200. However, the City only has 90.
He said midwives play a vital role in barangays so pregnant women don’t have to give birth in hospitals, especially with the ongoing health crisis.
During the budget hearing for the proposed 2021 annual budget on Friday, Nov. 27, 2020, Ibones asked the City Council to allow them to hire more doctors and midwives.
The council said it would consider Ibones’ request.
“The committee on budget will note that you’re requesting for a bigger budget for personnel services, considering that you will increase the number of doctors for next year,” said City Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia.
City Councilor Joel Garganera echoed Ibones’ sentiment.
“Considering the pandemic, makita gyud nato nga (we can see that) there is really a scarcity of doctors, nurses and midwives,” he said.
“If we want result, then let’s add personnel diha (at the CHD). If we want a different result with the same personnel diha (there), forget it. We cannot have that result,” he said.
Garganera, who is also the deputy chief implementer of the city’s Emergency Operations Center, said the CHD is in the forefront to prevent hospitals in the city from getting overwhelmed in case of a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
Ibones said around P200 million is being proposed for the salaries of CHD personnel, including doctors, midwives and barangay health workers, in the 2021 annual budget.
Under the proposed budget, the CHD has an allocated budget of P580 million.
The executive department submitted to the council a proposed budget of P10.8 billion for next year.
Garcia said the budget hearing has been extended to the first week of December.
In a separate interview, Garcia said the City already spent P2.16 billion to cover Covid-19 expenses, as of Oct. 16.
The council had approved a P3.46-billion budget for the City’s Covid-19 response.
Garcia said the City might be trying to procure the remaining budget, which is why it is not included in the liquidation.
Any unused funds will be reverted to the general fund, he said.
Mayor Edgardo Labella had said the 2021 budget could be sourced from the proceeds of South Road Properties (SRP) lot sale.
Labella earlier said there was no alternative source of funds for the 2021 budget.
Garcia said he will meet with the Local Finance Committee to look for other sources in case the council will not approve the use of P3 billion from the SRP proceeds.
Garcia said the City still has P5.5 billion from the SRP lot sale.
He added that proceeds of the SRP lot sale are intended for “rainy days” and a Covid-19 pandemic is a “rainy day.” (JJL)