Bong Go files bill to institutionalize OFW Hospital

SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go’s commitment has materialized with the establishment of a dedicated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Hospital in San Fernando City, Pampanga. Having filed Senate Bill No. 2297, he now seeks to institutionalize the hospital and secure its long-term operations to cater to OFWs and their families.

Go asserts that the creation of the OFW Hospital is not just the realization of a dream, but the fulfilment of a commitment.

“This is more than just a promise kept. It is about the tangible appreciation of the sacrifices made by our country’s OFWs, who are the modern-day heroes of our society,” said Go.

“The support for this institution must be sustained even after the end of the previous administration’s term,” he added.

Recalling the momentous realization of having a dedicated OFW hospital, Go noted the integral part it played in securing the welfare of OFWs and their dependents.

“The dream of having an OFW hospital is now a reality. We now also have a Malasakit Center within the OFW Hospital. With this proposed bill, we strive to carry on the initiatives that began earlier and aim to strengthen them, especially those beneficial to our OFWs,” he added.

Filed on July 12, the bill is poised to enhance the medical welfare of OFWs and their families through the already established OFW Hospital and Diagnostic Center in San Fernando City, Pampanga. Go’s proposed legislation is committed to addressing the health care needs of those considered as modern-day heroes, assuring them of extensive medical support.

“This bill seeks to make the OFW Hospital a permanent fixture in our healthcare system, solely focused on the specific health requirements of OFWs and their families,” Go elaborated.

As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and vice chairperson of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, Go emphasized the need for a specialized healthcare facility for OFWs, recognizing their unique challenges and health risks.

One of the salient provisions of SBN 2297 is the allocation of necessary funds for the maintenance and operation of the OFW Hospital, reflecting the government’s commitment to prioritize the healthcare needs of OFWs and their families.

“This provision highlights our government’s determination to prioritize the health of our OFWs,” Go said.

The hospital, generously donated by the provincial government of Pampanga, began operations in May 2022. Situated on a 1.5-hectare plot, it comprises six stories with a capacity of 100 beds, primarily dedicated to OFWs and their eligible dependents. Go accompanied former president Rodrigo Duterte in inspecting the hospital during the same month.

In addition to providing medical care, the hospital aims to spearhead research initiatives focusing on prevention, care, and treatment of occupational diseases commonly encountered by OFWs.

“Along with direct healthcare services, the hospital will undertake crucial research and provide specialized training programs for healthcare professionals to cater specifically to the needs of OFWs,” Go elaborated.

Recognizing the importance of providing proper support and protection to all Filipino migrant workers, including seafarers, Go was instrumental in the passage of Republic Act No. 11641, which established the Department of Migrant Workers. The Senate version of the Act, Senate Bill No. 2234, was authored and co-sponsored by Go.

DMW serves as the lead agency for implementing policies, plans and programs that will ensure the protection, promotion of interests, timely resolution of problems, and effective reintegration of OFWs.

With collaboration of DMW and the DOH, the OFW Hospital will offer round-the-clock telehealth services for migrant workers and their families. Go noted that “the hospital will also work in coordination with foreign posts to assist in the medical assessment and management of distressed OFWs while awaiting repatriation.”

In November last year, Go personally led the launch of the 153rd Malasakit Center inside the OFW Hospital. A brainchild of Go, the Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop designed to help poor and indigent patients with their medical-related expenses by putting together concerned agencies that offer medical assistance programs, such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

In January, the provincial government of Pampanga expressed their gratitude to Duterte and Go for their efforts to uplift the province’s welfare and interests. Duterte, acknowledging his remarkable efforts to propel Pampanga’s growth and prosperity during his tenure as President from 2016 to 2022, was conferred the title of “adopted son” of the province under Resolution No. 7643. Simultaneously, Go received recognition through a separate Resolution No. 7643-A.