Go wants to expand ‘Malasakit Centers’ to help ailing poor

Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong”  T. Go wants to strengthen and expand the Malasakit Center program in order to make quality medical care available to more Filipinos.

SAP Bong Go checks on a child confined in a public hospital.
In Photo: SAP Bong Go checks on a child confined in a public hospital.

The Malasakit Center is the one-stop shop program of President Duterte to hasten the delivery of medical services and give poor patients access to free medicines.

In his State of the Nation Address on July 23, the President said Go was “instrumental in arriving at the right decision through proper consultation” when he decided to put up Malasakit Centers.

Under the program, patients are assisted in availing themselves of the services and financial assistance provided by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Pooled together, the assistance can reduce the patients’ medical bill—including medicines—to a more affordable amount or, at times, to zero.

Currently, there are five Malasakit Centers in the Philippines, three in the Visayas: the Vicente Sotto Memorial Center in Cebu City, the Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City and the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City; one in Davao City and another in the Philippine General Hospital  (PGH) in Manila.

In an interview during his visit to fire victims in Mandaluyong past midnight on August 30, Go said that the government plans to put up additional Centers so more people can benefit from the program.

May programa iyong gobyerno. Ito po ’yung gusto ko palawakin o palakasin ‘yung Malasakit Center, kasi alam ko napakaraming nangangailangan ng medisina at saka libreng gamot [The government has a program. I want to expand and strengthen the Malasakit Center because I know a lot of people need medical services and free medicines],” he said.

“Sabi nga ‘nung isa doon hindi na raw niya ma-sustain iyong pagpapagamot. Nakakalungkot, so tutulungan po naming lahat, hanggang sa kaya namin itulong [As one person was telling me, he couldn’t sustain his medication. That’s unfortunate, so we will help everyone to the best of our abilities],” he added.

“Let’s say PCSO may limit ’yung [subsidy], hanggang dulo, ’yun na iyong Malasakit doon na kami talagang tutulong hanggang sa kaya, kung kayang maging zero bill. After PhilHealth, after DSWD, after PCSO, then sa dulo kung magkano iyong maiwan na bill iyon ang sasagutin  [Let us say, the PCSO has a limit in its subsidy. When the patient reaches the end of that, the Malasakit Center will help until the bill reaches zero. After PhilHealth, then DSWD, then PCSO, then after all the subsidies are availed of, the patient will only shoulder the little that is left in the bill],” he said.

Go said Malasakit Centers will be put up in September in key areas like Bacolod, Dumaguete and Palawan to name a few. Another one will be put up in Maguindanao soon.

He also said the President has also allotted a P100-million monthly subsidy to the PGH to help it give free medical services to more people.

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