Buhinons denounce hospital fee ordinance

BUHI, CAMARINES SUR—A vehement opposition against a proposed ordinance to impose a fee on maternal health services is ringing throughout this town.

Buhi, Camarines Sur birthing facility fee ordinance
Buhi, Camarines Sur
The proposed measure called “An Ordinance Prescribing Fees, Charges and Establishing Systems in the Operations of Maternal Health and Newborn Care” indicates that a service fee of P3,500 will be charged to residents for the use of the town’s birthing facilities. P6,500, meanwhile, will be collected if the mother is a non-resident of the municipality.

The ordinance is authored by Maria Bella Nonato, who says that the health workers who man the birthing facilities are rendering additional service. Thus, she says, they should be duly compensated.
Several barangay officials, such as Antonio Samantela and Nilo Enfante of Barangays De Los Angeles Sta. Elena, however, are unconvinced that the municipality needs to require such an exorbitant fee.

During a recent public hearing, they averred that many would not be able to afford the amount, especially because a majority of those who are expected to avail of the service are mired in poverty. They further reasoned that such a large amount would round counter to the municipality’s commitment to curb maternal mortality, as it could discourage mothers from availing of the expensive service.

Meanwhile, Nonato says that if the LGU would allow the health personnel to claim overtime pay, as well as shoulder the cost of medical supplies, the service fee may be scrapped.

At present, however, the LGU does not have allocation to cover these expenses. Thus, what the Sangguniang Bayan hopes is for the LGU to provide for the needs of the health workers, so that mothers will not have to pay for the service fees.

Buhi is one of the towns in Camarines Sur which has high maternal and infant mortality rates. To address these, it has signified its intention to work towards the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals to improve maternal and infant health.

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