SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, underscored the importance of dedicating resources to health infrastructure especially in communities to bring medical services closer to the people as he attended the inauguration of a Super Health Center in Sorsogon City, Sorsogon, on Friday, November 24.
Emphasizing the necessity for a holistic strategy, Go highlighted in his speech the significance of strengthening the country’s healthcare system to effectively tackle healthcare issues and safeguard the welfare of its citizens, particularly at the grassroots level.
“The more we should invest sa ating healthcare system. Hindi natin akalain na tamaan tayo ng pandemya. Mas mabuti nang handa tayo sa anumang pandemyang darating sa buhay natin,” said Go.
Super Health Centers are designed to focus on primary care, consultation, and early detection of diseases at the community level. Moreover, the centers offer database management, out-patient, birthing, isolation, diagnostic (laboratory: x-ray, ultrasound), pharmacy, and ambulatory surgical unit. Other available services are eye, ear, nose, and throat (EENT) service; oncology centers; physical therapy and rehabilitation centers; and telemedicine.
In emphasizing the importance of Super Health Centers, Go highlights that these centers play a crucial role in bridging the gaps in healthcare accessibility, especially in underserved communities. Through collective efforts of Go, DOH, LGUs and fellow lawmakers, sufficient funds have been allocated for 307 Super Health Centers in 2022 and 322 in 2023.
“Marami po sa mga kababayan natin sa iba’t ibang sulok ng Pilipinas ang walang sapat na health facilities na makakagamot sa kanilang mga karamdaman. Kaya importante na mailapit natin ang serbisyong medikal mula gobyerno sa mga taong nangangailangan nito,” he stressed.
Apart from Sorsogon City, Super Health Centers were also funded in Bulan, Irosin, Castilla, Sta. Magdalena, and Matnog.
The inauguration was also attended by Congresswoman Marie Bernadette Escudero, Sorsogon City Mayor Ester Hamor, and other local officials.
To further improve access to healthcare, Go earlier supported the renovation of Dr. Fernando B. Duran Sr. Memorial Hospital (Sorsogon Provincial Hospital) in the city and the construction of its Cancer Treatment Center. There is a Malasakit Center located at the hospital which he also inspected the operations of later that day and provided aid to frontliners and patients there.
A brainchild of Go, the Malasakit Centers program is designed to help ensure that indigent patients have convenient access to medical assistance programs offered by partner agencies like DOH, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
Currently, there are 159 operational centers that have assisted more than 10 million Filipinos nationwide, according to DOH.
“Ang Malasakit Center po ay one-stop shop, nasa loob na ho ng hospital ‘yung apat na ahensya ng gobyerno—‘yung DOH, DSWD, PhilHealth, at PCSO. Tutulungan po kayo sa inyong billing,” said Go, who principally authored and sponsored Republic Act No. 11463.
“Lapitan n’yo lang po ang Malasakit Center, para po iyan sa mga Pilipino lalo na sa mga poor and indigent patients. Batas na ‘yan na isinulong ko at pinirmahan ni (dating) pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte noon,” he added.
Another measure that Go pushed for to improve healthcare access in the countryside is RA 11959, or the Regional Specialty Centers Act, which he principally sponsored and is one of the authors in the Senate. The law mandates the establishment of Regional Specialty Centers within existing DOH regional hospitals, showcasing the government’s dedicated efforts to enhance the country’s health infrastructure.
The senator underscored the significance of providing specialized services within regional hospitals. This move aims to ease the challenges faced by patients who have to travel far for specialized procedures.
“Uunahin ko talaga ang mga mahihirap. Iyan talaga ang aking priority, mga pro poor programs na makakatulong sa mga kababayan natin na walang matatakbuhan kundi ang gobyerno,” said Go.
Go, vice chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, has earlier supported several projects in the province. These include a province-wide water system project; rehabilitation of river revetments along the Managa-Naga River in Bulan; and the construction of flood control structures in Castilla and Gubat. He also supported the construction of gymnasiums in Barcelona and Gubat; and several road construction and concreting projects in Barcelona, Gubat, Irosin, and Donsol.
On the same day, Go assisted displaced workers in the city and attended the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants: 78th Annual National Convention.