KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato– Republic Act 11102 signed into law on October 26, 2018 by President Rodrigo R. Duterte mandates the establishment of the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital (SGH) in Surallah, South Cotabato and appropriates funds therefor.  

The said law paved the way for the conversion of the Upper Valley Community Hospital located in Surallah, South Cotabato which is managed by the Provincial Government of South Cotabato.

Based on the hospital-bed to population ratio, the region is at the tail end of attaining the desired ratio of 1:800.  Other areas such as Sarangani registered very low bed-to-population ratios of 1:5,638; South Cotabato, 1:900, and Sultan Kudarat at 1:893. 

Given the recent turn-over of Cotabato City to Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), where the region’s former premier hospital, the Cotabato Regional Medical Center is geographically situated, the gap in the desired standard bed-to-population ratio has worsened. 

Considering this situation, members of the RDC XII Advisory Committee underscored the importance of fast-tracking the operationalization of SGH.  This is to lessen the gap and increase the access to quality health care for the general population of Region XII.

Deputy Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez, Representative of the 2nd District of South Cotabato said that now is the opportune time to plan the upgrading of the SOCCSKSARGEN General Hospital to a 300-bed, Level 3 hospital.  Cong. Hernandez recommended increasing the budget for SGH from PhP 89 Million to PhP 1.8 Billion for FY 2022.   The bulk of the proposal covers the capital outlay for the upgrading of the facility that includes the establishment of a mental/psychiatric ward.

Also, part of the proposal is for SGH to become a government-run COVID-19 testing facility in the region.  Currently, private hospitals such as Dr. Arturo Pingoy Medical Center in Koronadal City and St. Elizabeth Hospital in General Santos City serve as COVID-19 testing facilities.

SGH has been identified and utilized as a COVID-19 quarantine/isolation facility at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and is still used as it is up to the present.

While discussion for its transfer of supervision from South Cotabato to DOH is on-going, the DOH XII has two projects for SGH amounting to PhP 6 Million, namely:  a) Repair/Renovation of Hospital, and, b) completion of UVCH CT Scan and completion of its operating and delivery room.  Implementation however, is presently suspended due to the pandemic.

While in transition, the Change Management Committee for Human Resource and the Transition Committee represented by both parties, DOH, and South Cotabato Provincial Government were created.  The Transition Plan was finalized and signed through the direction of the Facilitation Team chaired by RD Josephine F. Cabrido-Leysa of the Department of the Interior and Local Governance (DILG) XII and Chairperson of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (RIATF-EID) XII.  (Evie Arabis Cabulanan, NEDAXII-DRD)