MANILA – The country’s 82nd Malasakit Center was launched on September 11 at the Southern Isabela Medical Center, a coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)-designated hospital in Santiago City, Isabela.
In his speech via video call, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go explained that Malasakit Centers are one-stop shops that host concerned government agencies with programs that provide financial and medical assistance to Filipino patients, particularly the poor and indigent.
“Lapitan ninyo lang ang Malasakit Centers para sa mga pangangailangan ninyong pangkalusugan. Para po ito sa lahat ng mga Pilipino, lalo na ang mga mahihirap na nangangailangan ng tulong sa pampagamot. Sisiguraduhin natin na pagdating sa serbisyo mula sa gobyerno, sila ang ating uunahin palagi (Approach Malasakit Center for your medical needs. This is for every Filipino, particularly the indigent patients who are in need of medical assistance. We will make sure that they will be given priority),” he added.
The Malasakit Center is the second in Isabela and the third in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley).
Go called for special attention to the community’s most vulnerable members and urged authorities to prioritize the welfare of poor and indigent patients.
“Ang Malasakit Center po ay walang pulitika, basta Pilipino ka, lalo na kung poor and indigent patient ka, qualified ka po sa Malasakit Center (Malasakit Center is not about politics, if you are Filipino, especially if you are poor and indigent, you are qualified to go to Malasakit Center),” said Go.
He appealed to the hospital administrators, doctors, and other health workers to look for the welfare of the poor and indigent patients.
“Ito po ‘yung panahon na hirap na hirap na sila at humihingi ng tulong. Unahin natin at palaging protektahan ang kapakanan nila (This is the time that they are facing difficulties and asking for help. Let’s prioritize them and protect their welfare),” he said.
The Malasakit Center, a brainchild of Go, is a one-stop shop wherein patients may seek financial and medical assistance from various government agencies, namely the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
“Ngayon na may Covid-19, mas lalong kailangan po ang Malasakit Center para tumulong sa mga kababayan natin (Now that there is Covid-19 pandemic, the more we need this Malasakit Center to help our countrymen),” he said.
The Malasakit Centers Act of 2019 was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte last Dec. 3, 2019.
Meanwhile, Go issued a call for cooperation with the government’s investigation into the allegations of widespread corruption in Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), to ensure conviction of culprits and improved services for all Filipinos.
“Bagama’t nakakalungkot po, sa nakaraang araw ay naging issue ang PhilHealth. Alam ko po na marami naman na nagtatrabaho sa PhilHealth na honest at may dedikasyon na magserbisyo sa ating mga kababayan (Though it’s sad that we have this issue in PhilHealth. I know a lot of honest and dedicated people working with the PhilHealth and dedicated to serve our people),” Go said.
He said every cent the people pay in PhilHealth should be properly used particularly now that the country is battling pandemic.
“Hindi po katanggap-tanggap sa mga Pilipino na may masasayang na pera at ayaw kong dumating sa punto na tatanggi na ang ospital dahil wala nang pera ang PhilHealth (It’s unacceptable to the Filipinos that there are wasted funds and we don’t want to come to the point that hospitals will no longer accept patients because there are no more funds),” he added.
The senator likewise called for solidarity and compassion among Filipinos to ease the burden on medical front-liners amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. He thanked front-liners for their sacrifices and vowed full government support for the nation’s health sector.
As chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Go co-authored and supported the passage of the Salary Standardization Law 5, which further raised the salaries of government civilian personnel, including doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers in the public sector.
Earlier, Go also pushed for the immediate implementation of a Supreme Court decision to finally increase the minimum salary grade of government nurses 18 years after a law providing such increase was enacted.
Go reiterated that the government must ensure the full implementation of the Universal Health Care Act. He also said that Congress must provide and ensure sufficient funding for healthcare in the 2021 budget to help Filipinos access quality medical services especially amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. (PR)