Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go joined in the launching of the Malasakit Center at the Compostela Valley Provincial Hospital-main in Montevista, Compostela Valley on Wednesday, October 30, ensuring easier access for Comvaleños and residents of nearby towns to quality health services and medical assistance from the government.
The Malasakit Center is the 48th in the country and 15th in Mindanao. Three other branches of the Compostela Valley Provincial Hospital, located in Maragusan, Laak and Pantukan, also host their respective and already operational Malasakit Centers.
The launch was led by Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV). OPAV was a partner of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President in establishing earlier Malasakit Centers when Go was still with the executive branch.
During his message, Go said that the Malasakit Center program is a step towards providing more accessible and quality healthcare to all Filipinos.
“Ang pagbubukas ng mga Malasakit Centers ay isang hakbang sa patuloy na pagtupad natin sa pangarap na mabigyan ang bawat Pilipino ng libreng serbisyo para sa kanilang pinansyal na pangangailangan sa ospital.”
He also recounted the painstaking process Filipinos then had to go through just to avail of medical services from the government prior to the establishment of Malasakit Centers.
“Nakita ko na ito dati pa, noong mayor pa si Pangulo, at ako, personal assistant niya. Nakita ko ang pila sa labas ng opisina ni Pangulo dati sa Davao. Mahaba at tila, sa bawat araw ay hindi kami nauubusan ng kababayang nanghihingi ng tulong,” Go said.
“Sinabi na sa akin noon ni Tatay Digong, ‘Bong, kung may pagkakataon, gawan mo ito ng paraan na matulungan lahat ng nandito,’” he added, recalling President Rodrigo Duterte’s encouragement to him to serve Filipinos.
In Malasakit Centers, the process of availing medical assistance from various government agencies has been simplified. Housing all concerned government agencies under one roof, patients will only need to fill up a single form in said centers to avail of financial assistance from the government. Malasakit Centers also have designated express lanes for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
Meanwhile, during an ambush interview, Go said that he is pushing for a law to institutionalize Malasakit Centers to ensure the continuity of the program in the years to come even beyond the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Go added that with a law in place, a standard set of criteria will be followed in establishing more Malasakit Centers in different public hospitals nationwide to ensure proper implementation and adequate staffing in each center.
“Hopefully, bago mag-Christmas break ‘yung Senate bill ay maipasa. Ako naman, as Committee on Health Chairman, pinu-push ko ito. Suportado naman po ito ng mga fellow senators at alam nila na para sa ikakabuti ito ng ating mga kababayan,” Go said.
The Senate bill sponsored by Go as Chairperson of the Committee on Health and Demography which seeks to institutionalize Malasakit Centers is expected to be tackled in the plenary level once session resumes in the Senate next week.
Asked about the proposed 2020 budget of DOH, Go committed that he will continue to fight for the budget being pushed by health officials and health workers to make sure that health services, especially for indigent patients, will not be adversely affected by budget cuts.
“‘Yun po ang aking ipu-push, ma-retain or ma-restore ang budget ng Health para po hindi maapektuhan ang renewal ng medical personnel. So ‘yun po ‘yung aking ipinaglalaban para wala pong mawalan ng trabaho,” said Go.
Go explained that the DOH budget on Human Resources for Health must be retained for next year to make sure that health workers will not lose their jobs and provision of health services in various parts of the country will not be hampered.