Senator Bong Go witnessed the opening of the country’s 53rd Malasakit Center at the Maguindanao Provincial Hospital in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao three days after the ceremonial signing of President Rodrigo Duterte of Republic Act No. 11463, also known as the Malasakit Center Act of 2019.

Initiated by the President and Go when the latter was still the Special Assistant to the President, the Malasakit Center is a one-stop-shop for medical financial assistance from various government agencies and offices.

“Nandidiyan na po ang apat na ahensiya ng gobyerno,” the legislator said in his speech.

The agencies are the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

“Noon kailangan pa ninyong magsangla ng kalabaw para may pambayad sa ospital. Ngayon dahil may Malasakit Center na tayo, magtutulungan (ang mga ahensiya ng gobyerno) para sa inyo,” the lawmaker also said.

“Senior citizens and persons with disabilities will be prioritized through an express lane.”

“Zero balance po ang target ng Malasakit Center,” the senator added.

He also said that senior citizens and persons with disabilities will be prioritized through an express lane.

The Malasakit Center in Maguindanao is the second in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The first in the region was opened at the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in Cotabato City on November 19, 2018.

Go also shared that more Malasakit Centers will be opened soon as part of the implementation of RA 11463.

“Tuloy-tuloy po ito sa lahat ng mga DOH-run hospitals. Ayon po sa batas, 73 na DOH-run hospitals ay lalagyan ng Malasakit Center,” he said in an interview after the event.

Go added that the law allows local government units (LGUs) to establish Malasakit Centers provided that they meet the standards and criteria to ensure sustainability and consistency in the services provided by the centers. “We have set criteria para sundin nila para hindi po bungi-bungi ang mga Malasakit Center.”

RA 11463 mandates the DOH, DSWD, PCSO and PhilHealth to issue the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) within 90 days after the President’s approval.

During an interview, he was also asked about his plans as chair of the Senate Committee on Health regarding a report that more than 400,000 cases of dengue have been recorded in the Philippines since January 2019.

“If there are symptoms, immediately go to the DOH.”

“Tuloy-tuloy naman po ang programa ng ating Department of Health sa dengue. Sundin natin ‘yung apat na reminders ng DOH,” Go answered.

The DOH advises the public to apply the 4S strategy: search and destroy mosquito breeding grounds, seek early consultation when symptoms appear, self-protection measures such as wearing protective clothing, and saying yes to fogging in hotspot areas.

“Pag mayroong mga sintomas, punta kayo kaagad sa DOH. Ipa-ospital niyo kaagad. Huwag niyo na po antaying lumala pa. Ito naman pong dengue, kailangan po dito is hydration, ma-hydrate ‘yung katawan ng bata,” he added.

According to the Dengue Surveillance Report of DOH, there were a total of 402,694 cases of dengue that were documented from January 1 to November 16. The number has since plateaued. There was a total of 209,335 cases of dengue last year during the same period.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the number is already going down and that the epidemic is going to end soon. Last August, DOH declared a national dengue epidemic, resulting to heightened awareness and more aggressive and sustained efforts to combat dengue nationwide.

In a bid to further improve government vaccination program, Go filed last July a bill that seeks to expand the coverage of the mandatory basic immunization program of the government. If approved, the program under Republic Act 10152 will soon include rotavirus, Japanese encephalitis, Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV), Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and other types to be determined by the DOH Secretary.

Presently, the program only covers tuberculosis; diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; poliomyelitis; measles; mumps, rubella or German measles; hepatitis-B; and H. Influenza type B (HIB).

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