After two site visits in North Cotabato and Davao del Sur to extend aid to victims of a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that rocked some parts of Mindanao, Senator Bong Go attended the launching of the 47th Malasakit Center in the country at the Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

Together with some local government officials in the Davao region and representatives from concerned government agencies, Go said more Malasakit Centers will be launched in other areas of the country, particularly in government-run hospitals.

The legislator also expressed his elation on the launching of the Malasakit Center in the regional hospital, the 14th in Mindanao, as it will serve patients not only in Tagum City but also those from nearby cities and municipalities.

“Lubos po ang aking kasiyahan na bubuksan natin ngayong araw dito sa Davao Regional Medical Center ang ika-47 na Malasakit Center sa Pilipinas at ika-14 sa Mindanao. Isang magandang kaganapan po ito para sa ating mga kababayan na kailangan ng tulong pang-ospital, hindi lang dito sa Tagum kundi maging sa mga karatig nitong lugar,” the lawmaker said.

“Health as one of my priorities.”

Declaring health as one of his priorities, the senator said he will continue to push for and support programs such the Malasakit Center that can provide and further improve access to quality medical services for all Filipinos.

“Kahit hindi na ako SAP (Special Assistant to the President) at ang Presidential Assistant for the Visayas na si Secretary Michael Dino na ang namumuno sa pagbubukas ng mga Malasakit Center, lagi pa rin akong dumadalo. Mula noon hanggang ngayon, nananatiling prayoridad ko ang mapangalagaan ang kalusugan ng mga Pilipino,” he shared.

As the chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Go has filed a bill called the Malasakit Center Act of 2019 which has already hurdled the interpellation period. In an ambush interview with members of the media, Go said he hopes the measure can pass into law before the year ends.

Go shared that the Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop where patients only need to sign a single form to avail of government medical assistance. He clarified that the centers will serve as an office that hosts concerned government agencies that provide medical and financial assistance, such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and PhilHealth.

“Ang Malasakit Center ay bahay lang po ito na one-stop shop. Ginawa siyang bahay o kuwarto para lahat ng pasyente doon na pupunta para matulungan,” Go said.

He explained that the medical and financial assistance provided in Malasakit Centers will come from the budget of concerned agencies with programs for poor and indigents patients.

“Yang medical assistance, sa program po iyon sa DOH na i-download dito, para rin po yun sa lahat dito sa ospital na nangangailangan ng tulong. It’s a medical assistance program, iba rin ‘yung galing kay Presidente Duterte na subject to liquidation, iba rin yung sa apat na ahensiya ng gobyerno,” Go explained.

“There is no limit on the number of Malasakit Centers to be opened.”

He also answered questions on his target number of Malasakit Centers to be opened in the coming months. Go said, “Walang limit itong target natin.” He pointed out that the aim is to first set up Malasakit Centers in DOH-run hospitals.

Meanwhile, Go encouraged the public to help  government contain the spread of HIV. He added that President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act “to effectively address the growing HIV cases in the country by forging stronger alliance among government agencies, private sectors, civil society, media and other stakeholders.” Last July 2019, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III signed the implementing rules and regulations of the law.

Among the significant provisions of the law that will help government reduce HIV cases in the country are: comprehensive intervention for key affected population, more care and support to all people living with HIV, including their families and orphaned children, stiffer penalties for breaching the confidentiality rule with regards to one’s HIV status and provision against denial or deprivation of any person with HIV of private health insurance under a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and private life insurance coverage on the basis of a person’s HIV status.

“Mayroon ng mga batas naman dito, at ini-encourage ko lahat kung mayroon man o wala, magpa-check kayo with all confidentiality. Huwag kayong mahiya, mas maayos kung negatibo kayo, at kung positive naman ay dapat magamot na agad kayo diyan sa mga government hospital,” Go said.

He also assured that government is ready to help Filipinos in need of such testing and treatment. There are at least 85 HIV treatment hubs strategically located in various parts of the country, as of May 2018. Among the services offered are screening and basic laboratory testing, treatment and management of HIV-related illness and counseling.


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