148th Malasakit Center opens in Brooke’s Point, Palawan as Go vows to continue fighting for better access to health care for indigent communities

148th Malasakit Center opens in Brooke’s Point, Palawan as Go vows to continue fighting for better access to health care for indigent communities

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — In line with his commitment to fighting for the health care
needs of the Filipino people, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go
attended the virtual launch of the country’s 148th Malasakit Center at
the Southern Palawan Provincial Hospital in Brooke’s Point, Palawan on
Thursday, November 4.

This is the seventh Malasakit Center in Region IV-B and the third in
the province, after the Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital (CSGH)
in Culion, which opened the previous day in a ceremony Go personally
witnessed, and Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) in Puerto Princesa City.

“Congratulations sa Palawan at ito ang pangatlo niyong Malasakit
Center. Nagbukas tayo noong 2018 sa siyudad ng Puerto Princesa at
kahapon naman, pinuntahan ko at binuksan natin ‘yung pangalawang
Malasakit Center sa CSGH,” Go said in a message delivered online.

The senator, who heads the Senate Committee on Health, hailed the
opening of the new centers as an important step towards reducing
healthcare access disparities across the province. He recognized the
urgent need for better access to medical assistance, noting that many
Filipinos cannot afford treatment due to the high out-of-pocket
expenses, transportation costs, and other payments.

“Alam ko ang problema sa baba, ng mga mahihirap nating kababayan na
walang matakbuhan. Alam ko na dahil sa lawak ng isla ng Palawan ay
kinakailangan pang maglakbay ng mga pasyente para pumunta ng Puerto
Princesa upang makapagpa-ospital at makahingi ng tulong mula sa
gobyerno,” continued Go.

“Pero ngayon, mayroon na kayong Malasakit Center dito sa baba, mayroon
rin kayo sa taas at sa gitna. May tatlong Malasakit Center na sa
Palawan na handang tumulong sa ating mga kababayan,” he said.

To eliminate the barriers to health care access, Go had authored and
sponsored the measure that became Republic Act No. 11463. The law
institutionalized the Malasakit Centers as an ongoing part of the
services provided in hospitals run by the Department of Health and the
Philippine General Hospital.

The center is a one-stop-shop which streamlines the provision of
medical assistance programs of the government, aiming to help
particularly the poor and indigent with burdensome hospital bills. Its
partner agencies include the DOH, Department of Social Welfare and
Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine
Charity Sweepstakes Office.

The said law also allows other public hospitals to open a Malasakit
Center provided they can meet a set of criteria that would ensure
sustainability of their operations.

“Sa mga pasyente, hindi niyo na kailangang lumabas para humingi ng
tulong. Lapitan niyo lang ang Malasakit Center na ito at tutulungan
kayo ng mga ahensya ng gobyerno para wala na kayong bababayaran sa
ospital. Ngayon, kung may naiwan pa ding balanse, may iniwang dagdag
pondo si Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte para wala nang dahilan para hindi
maging zero balance ang billing ninyo,” reassured Go.

“Sa totoo lang, pera naman ng mga Pilipino ‘yan. Inyo ‘yan kaya
karapatan niyo ‘yan. Ibinalik namin ito sa inyo pamamagitan ng mabilis
at maaasahang serbisyo. Iyan po ang Malasakit Center,” he added.

On this note, the senator urged the hospital staff to ensure the
proper use of the funds so they can provide their poorest patients the
care and treatment they deserve. He reaffirmed his commitment to
supporting their welfare by pushing for the passage of Senate Bill No.
2421, which he co-sponsored in the Senate and takes into consideration
an earlier bill he authored.

The bill provides a COVID-19 Risk Allowance in lieu of the financial
compensation granted under the Bayanihan 2. It specifically gives all
health workers in “low-risk areas” a monthly allowance of P3,000;
those in “medium risk areas,” P6,000; and those in “high-risk areas,”
P9,000.

“Sa lahat ng mga doctors, nurses, medical technicians at mga utility
workers ng ospital, maraming salamat sa inyong sakripisyo sa panahong
ito. Hindi mababayaran ng anumang halaga ang inyong sakripisyo na
ipinapamalas sa ating mga kababayan. Kaya naman ako po’y nandirito sa
likod ninyo bilang Committee Chair on Health sa Senado para ipaglaban
kayo anytime,” said Go.

He likewise reminded local residents to get vaccinated as soon as they
are eligible and to follow all health protocols to prevent the virus
from spreading further and the health care system from getting
overwhelmed.

Go lauded the national vaccination rollout program, which has
administered some 61.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of
November 3. A total of 28.2 million individuals are fully vaccinated
while another 33.2 million have received their first dose. The average
number of daily doses currently stands at 551,542.

“Magpabakuna na kayo para protektado kayo at maiiwasan niyo ang
pagka-ospital ng dahil sa COVID-19. Malaking tulong ito para hindi
mapuno ang mga ospital at maginhawaan ang ating mga frontliners.
Magbayanihan, mag-cooperate at magmalasakit tayo sa ating kapwa
Pilipino,” he ended.

The senator also took time to thank the individuals who supported the
Malasakit Centers program and contributed to its continuing success.
They included those in attendance, such as Acting Vice Mayor Rogelio
Badua, Sofronio Española Mayor Marsito Acoy, Maasin Punong Barangay
Domingo Bernas, Aribungos Punong Barangay Edgar Inso, Imulnod Punong
Barangay Levi Adioc, Mainit Punong Barangay Novelin Aguilar, Tubtub
Punong Barangay Julito Bodesa, and Chief of Hospital Dr. Amabel Labor.

After the launch, his team distributed meals, food packs, vitamins,
masks and face shields to 175 health workers and 69 indigent patients.
They also gave selected health workers new shoes and bicycles for
commuting and provided others with computer tablets for their children
to use for their education.

Moreover, the DSWD distributed financial assistance to indigent
patients and 145 rank-and-file hospital employees, as part of a
government effort to assist frontline hospital staff.

“Huwag kayong magpasalamat sa amin ni Pangulong Duterte. Kami ang
magpasalamat dahil binigyan niyo kami ng pagkakataon para makapagsilbi
sa ating bayan. Kaya hindi namin sasayangin ito. Ibabalik namin sa
inyo ‘yung serbisyong totoo. Araw-araw, minu-minuto kaming
magtratrabaho para makaahon tayo sa krisis na ito,” pledged Go.

The previous day, the senator also conducted a monitoring visit at the
ONP during which his team provided relief to more health workers and
indigent patients. He then distributed aid to 4,000 indigent residents
in Culion, Busuanga, and Puerto Princesa City

In July 2020, Go was declared an “adopted son of Puerto Princesa” by
the City Council in recognition of his efforts to assist residents
impacted by previous calamities. (ai/mtvn)

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