Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, has been steadfast in his commitment to improving healthcare access for Filipinos, particularly for the less privileged.
On Friday, September 15, he attended the launch of the country’s 159th Malasakit Center at Bislig District Hospital in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur. This new addition brings the total number of Malasakit Centers in the Caraga Region to seven, and to 40 across Mindanao.
The Malasakit Center initiative, a program close to Go’s heart, aims to provide a seamless and expedited process for particularly poor and indigent patients to access government medical assistance programs.
“As Chairman ng Committee on Health, priority ko talaga itong Malasakit Center para mayroon kayong nalalapitan sa inyong pagpapaospital,” Go emphasized during the inauguration.
He further elaborated that these centers serve as a one-stop-shop for healthcare, consolidating various government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office under one roof.
This approach eliminates the need for patients to make multiple visits and fill out extensive paperwork, thereby making healthcare more accessible for Filipinos.
The recent launch at Bislig District Hospital shows the steady progress of healthcare accessibility in the Caraga Region. The Butuan Medical Center in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, was the first to open in the region on October 12, 2018. It was followed by the Caraga Regional Hospital in Surigao City, Surigao del Norte, on March 1, 2019.
The year 2021 marked a surge in the program’s expansion, with new centers at the Siargao Island Medical Center in Dapa, Surigao del Norte, on July 3; the Lianga District Hospital in Lianga, Surigao del Sur, on July 10; and two more inaugurated on July 31 at the Democrito O. Plaza Memorial Hospital in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur, and the Adela Serra Ty Memorial Medical Center in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.
Go said that these centers serve as a testament to the government’s commitment to healthcare accessibility. Each center is strategically located to serve the healthcare needs of the local population, particularly those who are less privileged.
“Ubusin niyo po ang pera ng gobyerno para sa mga mahihirap. Sabi ko, bakit natin pahirapan ang Pilipino? Sa totoo lang po ay pera ninyo yan. Dapat po ibalik sa inyo sa mabilis na paraan. ‘Yan po ang Malasakit Center,” Go said.
According to DOH, these centers have already assisted more than seven million Filipinos nationwide.
During the launch, Go expressed his gratitude to local officials, as well as the medical staff and partner agencies who have made the program’s expansion possible.
“Hindi po ako titigil sa mga programang makakabuti po sa ating mga kababayan, ipagpapatuloy ko po ang mga nasimulan,” Go concluded.