Press Release
September 17, 2023

159th Malasakit Center opens in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur as Bong Go continues efforts to improve access to medical assistance for the poor

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography and the father of Malasakit Centers program, personally attended the launch of the country's 159th Malasakit Center at the Bislig District Hospital in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur on Friday, September 15.

The Malasakit Centers program, a brainchild of Go, aims to provide a seamless and expedited process for particularly poor and indigent patients to access government medical assistance programs.

It was an idea born out of the senator's concern for the well-being of the poorest Filipinos who often struggle to get medical needs. The newly opened Malasakit Center in Bislig District Hospital, under the district of Rep. Johnny Pimentel, is the seventh Malasakit Center in Caraga Region and 40th in Mindanao.

"As Chairman ng Committee on Health, priority ko talaga itong Malasakit Center para mayroon kayong nalalapitan sa inyong pagpapaospital. Nandito na ang apat na ahensya ng gobyerno, ang PhilHealth, PCSO, DOH, DSWD na tutulong sa inyong pagpapagamot. Lapitan niyo yang Malasakit Center. Para yan sa Pilipino, pagmamay-ari niyo yang Malasakit Center. Para yan sa inyo," explained Go, principal author and sponsor of the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019.

"Isa lang po ang pakiusap ko, gamitin niyo po (ang pondo) sa mga mahihirap. 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," he explained.

The Malasakit Center serves as a one-stop shop, streamlining the assistance process by bringing together various government agencies under one roof. Patients can seek assistance for their medical bills, laboratory fees, and other related expenses without the hassle of multiple visits and endless paperwork.

During the launch, Go expressed his gratitude to the local officials, including Second District Congressman Pimentel, Governor Alexander Pimentel, Mayor Florencio Garay, and Vice Mayor Atty. Alfredo Carmelo, as well as the medical staff, and partner agencies who have made the program's expansion possible.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), these centers have assisted more than seven million Filipinos nationwide.

"Hindi po ako titigil po sa mga programang makakabuti po sa ating mga kababayan, ipagpapatuloy ko po ang mga nasimulan," Go emphasized.

"Tulad nitong Malasakit Center kung nakakatulong naman po sa mga kababayan natin, ipagpapatuloy natin," he continued.

Meanwhile, Go also extended assistance to 129 patients and 191 frontliners including security guards, utilities, and hospital staff. They all received grocery packs, masks, vitamins, and snacks while select recipients received mobile phones, shoes, watches, shirts, and balls for basketball and volleyball.

Still in line with his efforts to bolster the health sector, Go has supported the construction of several Super Health Centers nationwide. Under the 2022 national budget, Super Health Centers will be established in Surigao del Sur particularly in Cantilan, Hinatuan, Lianga and Lingig. In 2023, more centers were identified to be established in Barobo, San Agustin and Tagbina.

These centers will 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 center; and telemedicine, which makes remote diagnosis and treatment of patients possible.

Through the collective efforts of Go, DOH and fellow lawmakers, enough funds have been allocated to build 307 Super Health Centers in 2022 and 322 in 2023. DOH, which is the lead agency in implementing the program, identifies the strategic locations for the construction of these centers.

"Ito ay isang malaking hakbang para mapalapit ang gobyerno sa mga Pilipino, lalo na sa mga nangangailangan ng serbisyong medikal. Ang Super Health Center ay may layunin na ilapit ang serbisyo medikal sa inyong pamilya sa pamamagitan ng pagbigay ng primary care, medical consultations at early detection of diseases sa inyong komunidad," he continued.

Moreover, Go highlighted the recent passage of RA 11959 or the Regional Specialty Centers Act which he principally sponsored and is one of the authors in the Senate. The said law mandates the establishment of Regional Specialty Centers within existing DOH regional hospitals.

"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.

Go, vice chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, also extended his support for several projects in Bislig City to further contribute to its development. Among these projects are the construction of an evacuation center and multipurpose buildings, and the paving of a road along Bocto-Tumanan.

On the same day, Go provided gift packs to 32 newly married couples during the Kasalan ng Bayan in Bislig City.

He also took part in the Pagtutulay, Pagtutuloy: Strengthening Partnerships in Philippine Public Higher Education summit that was held at Dusit Thani in Davao City.

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