By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – The interim Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) governance is set to allocate P50-million to buy additional oxygen tanks needed in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic aggravated by the emergence of the so-called Delta Variant.
The enabling legislation, docketed as Bill No. 95, was approved on second reading by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament unanimously last week, the regional legislature’s media and public affairs section said in a press statement.
The bill, titled, “An Act Authorizing the Use of Fifty Million (PHP 50,000,000.00) to Fund the Acquisition of Additional Oxygen Tanks to be Charged Against the Quick Response Fund 2021 on Health of the Bangsamoro Government,” was introduced by Parliament Member Ziaur-Rahman A. Adiong and co-authored by colleagues Nabil Tan, Ubaida Pacasum and Baintan Ampatuan, the statement said.
The proposed measure will ensure that hospitals have an adequate supply of medical oxygen throughout the region’s health facilities, the statement said, citing reports that state hospitals in BARMM had reached bed limits for COVID-19 patients.
“Access to necessary oxygen and ventilators is getting scarce, with more people requiring these types of equipment for their treatment,” MP Adiong was quoted as saying, noting that hospitals’ inability to cater to patients has resulted in infected people dying.
In the plenary discussion for the bill, Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan, chair of the Parliament’s health committee and former regional health minister, rallied the measure’s “urgent” passage, it was learned.
Adiong reportedly pointed out that the BARMM government’s acquisition of a substantial supply of oxygen tanks may help prevent further deaths caused by the virus.
The bill also seeks to mandate the BARMM’s Ministry of Health (MOH) to distribute oxygen tanks and other medical equipment to health facilities across the Bangsamoro region.
The MOH, through its minister Dr. Bashary Latiph, had earlier dispersed oxygen tanks to constituent hospitals along with 11 ambulance vehicles in what facilitators described as a manifestation of the BARMM government’s “serious” campaign in sparing constituents from maladies accruing from the COVID-19 pandemic. (AGM)