Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday said the government should pour more funds to strengthen barangay health centers which could be the weakest link in the anti-flu (A-HINI) prevention and containment drive.
"We all know that our barangay health centers have been neglected. If an outbreak occurs, particularly in our urban poor communities, we would be hard press in containing the spread of this dreaded virus," he said in a statement.
"The barangay health center is our last line of defense in the health care system. We should have a capability check so we will know exactly in which area we are most vulnerable," Escudero added.
He made the call following the disclosure of Health Secretary Francisco Duque that AHINI flu cases in the country have risen to 14 while 21 people are being monitored for the presence of the virus.
Escudero said the problems of many barangays with health centers usually have to do with the unavailability of medical staff, inadequate facilities, and insufficient supply of medicines.
A recent report by VERA Files shows that health spending has sharply declined during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, "forcing Filipinos to spend more for badly needed health services."
It said that last year, total national government spending dropped by 27.5 percent to P253.00 per Filipino.
"If this is true, this government's priorities are sadly and deplorably skewed," Escudero said.
He urged the Department of Health to immediately conduct an inventory of resources available in barangay health centers especially in communities which cluster near schools.
Escudero reiterated his call for the administration to release funds from its own pork barrel to beef up its anti-flu campaign.
"Let us not be distracted by the political noise as well as the fleeting controversies that crowd the headlines. We have to protect the poorest among us who could face the brunt of an epidemic," he said.