By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — In line with the government’s efforts to improve access to health care services nationwide, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go hailed the launching of the country’s 112th Malasakit Center at the Mariveles Mental Wellness and General Hospital in Mariveles, Bataan on Tuesday, May 18.
In a statement, Go said that the Malasakit Center is the 11th established in Central Luzon and the second in the province after the Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center in Balanga City.
As Chair of the Senator Committee on Health, Go reaffirmed his commitment to strengthen the healthcare system and make access to healthcare services more convenient for Filipinos around the country.
“Ngayon, kung may kailangan o problema kayo, huwag kayong mag-atubiling lumapit sa amin ni Pangulong Duterte dahil trabaho namin ang tulungan kayo. Handa kaming magserbisyo sa inyong lahat sa abot ng aming makakaya,” vowed Go.
To ensure convenient access to health care, the Senator had authored and sponsored the measure that became Republic Act No. 11463 or the ‘Malasakit Centers Act of 2019’.
The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop which brings together the government agencies from which Filipinos may seek medical assistance. They include the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
It aims to reduce to the lowest amount possible the balance of the hospital bills of those who seek its assistance by covering patient services and expenses, such as laboratories, medicines, surgeries, and operations.
“Walang pinipili ang tulong mula sa Malasakit Center. Basta Pilipino ka, kwalipikado ka. Hindi niyo na kailangan pumila o umikot pa sa iba’t ibang mga opisina para humingi ng tulong pampagamot. Nasa iisang kwarto na sa loob mismo ng ospital ang mga ahensya na handang magserbisyo sa inyo,” he said.
The Senator, in his remarks personally delivered during the ceremony, expressed his heartfelt gratitude and sincere appreciation to the frontline medical workers for their untiring service to save lives amid the ongoing health crisis. In the face of these extraordinary challenges, Go reassured them of government’s utmost commitment to promote their safety and welfare.
“Sa lahat ng mga doctors, nurses at iba pang frontline health workers, maraming salamat sa inyong serbisyo sa panahong ito. Hindi mababayaran ang sakripisyo ninyo. Dahil kayo ang nakakaalam sa giyerang ito, kayo ang inuuna natin armasan ng bakuna,” said Go.
Go also took the opportunity to remind members of identified sectors included in the A1 to A3 vaccine priority categories to get vaccinated as soon as they can in order to protect themselves while preserving the health system and collective health security of the nation.
“Ang totoo, marami sa mga kababayan natin ang alanganin pa. Kaya gusto sana natin buksan at bakunahan na rin ang mga ‘isang kahig, isang tuka’ na trabahante at indigent sa A4 at A5 priority groups. Turukan na natin sila agad para walang masayang na bakuna at ma-achieve natin ‘yung herd immunity ngayong taon at maging masaya ang ating Pasko,” he continued.
He emphasized that once those most vulnerable to COVID-19, particularly frontliners, senior citizens, and those with comorbidities, are vaccinated, government can soon move on to other essential sectors and indigents in the vaccine rollout.
“Alam ko marami ang takot magpabakuna pero no choice tayo ngayon. Marahil kulang lang ‘yung pagpapaintindi natin sa kanila kaya sila takot kahit gusto nila magpaturok. Sabi nga ni Pangulong [Rodrigo] Duterte, dapat walang pilian. Kung ano ‘yung dumating, iturok na kaagad,” he said.
“Hinahabol natin ang panahon para hindi mag-expire at masayang ang mga bakuna at ma-achieve natin ‘yung herd immunity. Kaya ‘wag tayo mamili at sumunod tayo sa priority list. Unahin natin ang mga medical frontliners, senior citizens at persons with comorbidities and then pababa as fast as we can,” he added.
Meanwhile, Go also shared that he recently successfully pushed for the inclusion of the Professional Regulation Commission’s frontline personnel and examiners in the A4 priority group to avoid delays in the conduct of professional board exams, particularly for nurses, to address the need for more medical frontliners amid the pandemic.
“Pinaglaban po natin na mabakunahan ‘yung PRC examiners para makapag-exam na ‘yung mga nursing at iba pang health graduates at makapagserbisyo na sila sa ating bayan. Instead of November, makakapag-exam na sila ngayong July,” he shared.
Continuing his speech, Go expressed his gratitude to the various individuals who lent their support to the program so the residents of Bataan may have access to affordable and quality health care.
Among those he thanked were Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Governor Albert Garcia, 2nd District Representative Jose Enrique Garcia III, Mariveles Mayor Jocelyn Castañeda, and Chief of Hospital Dr. Maria Lourdes Evangelista.
After the activity, the DSWD distributed financial assistance to 517 medical frontliners and 29 indigent patients. The Senator’s staff also handed out meals, food packs, vitamins, masks, and face shields to each beneficiary.
They gave away new pairs of shoes or bicycles to selected medical frontliners so they can commute to work amid the limited transportation options available. Moreover, some of those with children studying at home under the blended learning set-up received computer tablets.
On the same day, Go also participated as a guest speaker at the ceremonial signing of the Deed of Donation between the Philippine Sports Training Center and Bataan provincial government at The Oriental Bataan. He also led the distribution of aid at the Freeport Area Bataan for thousands of displaced Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan workers.
To improve the delivery of health care services and boost development in the province, the Senator has supported the funding for construction of the 150-bed capacity of the Orani District Hospital as well as the construction of multi-purpose buildings in the towns of Bagac, Orion and Pilar. (AI/MTVN)