SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go encouraged poor and indigent patients to prioritize their medical-related needs amid the ongoing health crisis caused by COVID-19. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go assured them that they may conveniently avail of government assistance through any of the 120 Malasakit Centers nationwide.
Go attended the launch of the country’s 120th Malasakit Center at the San Lazaro Hospital (SLH) in Sta. Cruz, Manila on Wednesday, June 16.
The Malasakit Center is the 25th established in the National Capital Region and fourth in Manila City, in addition to the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital and Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center in the same district and the Philippine General Hospital in Ermita.
In his speech during the launch, the Senator emphasized that Filipinos must be given convenient access to medical services. He strongly advised indigent patients to avail of the services of the Malasakit Center where they may conveniently seek medical assistance to cover their hospital and other medical related expenses.
“Sa mga pasyente dito, kung may bill kayo, ilapit niyo lang ito sa Malasakit Center at tutulungan kayo nito makahingi ng tulong sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno. Hindi niyo na kailangan bumiyahe para pumila sa iba’t ibang opisina. Kung may naiwan pa kayong balanse, may pondo ring ibinigay si Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte para wala na kayong babayaran,” said Go.
He explained that medical assistance programs available through the Malasakit Center can cover the share of their health-related expenses.
“Wala itong pinipili. Basta poor at indigent patient ka, qualified ka. Pera niyo ito na binabalik lang namin sa pamamagitan ng maayos na serbisyo,” he added.
He also advised hospital personnel to ensure that those who cannot afford, particularly the poorest of the poor, must be provided treatment to ensure that lives are protected especially amid an ongoing health crisis.
“Wala nang dahilan para hindi tulungan ang mahihirap nating kababayan. Sa totoo lang, hindi naman pumupunta ang mga mayayaman dito.
‘Yung mga mahihirap at walang matakbuhan ang humihingi ng tulong kaya pakiusap, unahin natin sila,” continued the Senator.
“Hiling ko rin sa susunod na administrasyon, kung marami namang mahihirap ang natutulungan ng programang ito, sana ay ipagpatuloy niyo po ang pagsuporta dito dahil batas na po ang Malasakit Centers Act,” he appealed.
The Malasakit Center was institutionalized under Republic Act No. 11463, also known as the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which Go principally authored and sponsored in the Senate prior to President Rodrigo Duterte signing it into law on December 2, 2019.
The center is a one-stop shop for the government’s medical assistance programs. Its partner agencies include the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. The Malasakit Center covers laboratories, medicines, surgeries and other patient services and expenses.
“Malaking pasasalamat ang gusto kong iparating kay Senator Bong Go kasi kung hindi dito sa Malasakit Center Act ay hindi ma-rerealize ang ganitong adhikain or noble purpose for helping the poor, especially since we are in Metro Manila. Ako’y nagpapasalamat din sa tulong na ibinigay ng ating Presidente sa mamamayan natin, lalung-lalo na sa mga Pilipinong may sakit at nangangailangan,” said Medical Center Chief Dr. Edmundo Lopez.
As a gesture of appreciation for their excellent work and steadfast commitment, the Senator’s team distributed meals, food packs, vitamins, masks and face shields to a total of 1,526 medical frontliners following the ceremony.
Selected recipients were given new pairs of shoes, while some were provided bicycles for their commuting needs. Others received computer tablets to help their children access learning materials while studying at home.
Furthermore, a team from the DSWD also handed out financial assistance to 830 employees, including janitors and security guards, in a separate distribution. Other forms of assistance were extended to 116 indigent patients.
“Sa lahat ng health at utility workers at iba pang frontliners dito, nagpapasalamat kami ni Pangulong Duterte para sa sakripisyo ninyo sa panahong ito. Walang katumbas at hindi kayang bayaran ninuman ang serbisyo niyo,” said Go.
“Kaya saan man tayo aabutin, ipaglalaban ko kayo kung may pagkukulang sa inyo. Huwag kayong mag-atubiling lumapit sa amin ni Pangulo dahil trabaho namin ang magserbisyo. Hanggang sa huling araw ng aming mga termino, magsisilbi kami sa ating bayan,” he continued.
Go underscored the importance of investing in the local health care system to ensure Filipinos, regardless of their social standing, are able to receive quality medical services.
“Sa tagal kong nagtrabaho sa tabi ni Pangulong Duterte, nakita ko ang hirap na pinagdadaanan ng pangkaraniwang Pilipino para lang makapagpagamot sa ospital. Umiikot ako from Leyte, Bicol to Cotabato at nakita ko ang kakulangan sa kapasidad ng mga ospital natin,” he explained.
“Kaya naghahabol tayo ngayon para magdagdag ng modular facilities para hindi bumagsak ang ating health care system. Isipin mo, umaabot ng 400 percent ang capacity nila! May apat na pasyente sa bawat kama at nakahilera sila sa corridor. Paano sila gagaling kung ganyan ang sitwasyon nila?” he asked.
To strengthen the delivery of medical services, Go successfully pushed for the passage of 13 measures in the Senate which seek to expand the capacities and upgrade the capabilities of various hospitals in the following areas: Bacolod City; Mandaluyong City; Quezon City; Naguilian and Rosario, La Union; Sinait, Ilocos Sur; Malita, Davao Occidental; Medina, Misamis Oriental; Misamis Occidental; Rizal, Palawan; Rosales, Pangasinan; and Palo and Tacloban City, Leyte.
For their tireless support and efforts to improve access to health care, the Senator recognized and thanked officials present including 3rd District Representative John Marvin Nieto, Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, DOH Undersecretary Roger Tong-an and Assistant Secretary Charade Grande-Mercado, Office of the President Asec. Girlie Veloso, DSWD Usec. Aimee Torrefranca-Neri, and Medical Center Chief Dr. Lopez, among others.