Press Release
October 5, 2023

Bong Go champions progress in health infrastructure in Zamboanga Peninsula by bringing public health services closer to those in need

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go expressed his satisfaction and optimism over the significant advancements in healthcare infrastructure in Region IX, or the Zamboanga Peninsula. These developments have been championed by Go through the form of Regional Specialty Centers, Super Health Centers, and Malasakit Centers, each playing a unique role in strengthening the region's healthcare system.

"Isinulong po natin ang mga ito bilang chairman ng Committee on Health at bahagi ng ating adhikain na mapangalagaan ang kalusugan ng mga kababayan natin lalung-lalo na po ang mga mahihirap, helpless, hopeless at walang malalapitan maliban sa gobyerno," said the senator.

As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Go principally sponsored and is one of the authors of Republic Act No. 11959, also known as the Regional Specialty Centers Act. The legislation was signed into law by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. on August 24.

"This law represents a substantial move toward enhancing our healthcare capabilities by bringing specialty services closer to the regions," Go emphasized.

"Yung mga taga-Zamboanga, hindi na kailangan bumyahe pa papuntang Maynila o Davao para magpagamot sa puso o iba pang malubhang sakit. Magkakaroon na ng heart center at iba pang specialty centers sa regional hospital sa Zamboanga mismo," he added.

Go is particularly enthusiastic about the comprehensive upgrades planned for the Zamboanga City Medical Center. The facility is slated to house an array of specialty centers, each specializing in a different area of medical expertise.

As proposed by DOH, these will encompass Cardiovascular Care, Renal Care and Transplant, Lung Care, and Orthopedic Care, among others. The center will also offer specialized services in Physical Rehabilitation Medicine, Brain and Spine Care, Mental Health, and Neonatal Care. Additional centers will focus on Toxicology, Cancer Care, Infectious Disease and Tropical Medicine, Geriatric Care, and Eye Care.

Go has also been a vocal advocate of establishing more Super Health Centers nationwide, stating, "These centers are essential for decongesting our hospitals and making healthcare more accessible at the grassroots level."

Designed to focus on primary care, consultation, and early detection, Super Health Centers aim to fortify the healthcare infrastructure, particularly in rural communities. Free consultations may be facilitated here by local government health offices and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) through its Konsulta program.

Through the collective efforts of lawmakers, necessary funds have been allocated to construct 307 Super Health Centers in 2022 and 322 more in 2023 including in several strategic locations across the Zamboanga Peninsula.

For 2022, Isabela City in Basilan was identified for the establishment of one such center, and Zamboanga City was designated to receive two. Additional centers were also mapped out for Dapitan City, Dipolog City, and Labason, all in Zamboanga del Norte. In Zamboanga del Sur, the centers will be in Mahayag, Margosatubig, and Pagadian City. Similarly, in Zamboanga Sibugay, the towns of Kabasalan, Olutanga, and Buug have been chosen as sites for these facilities.

In 2023, 13 additional Super Health Centers have been funded for the Zamboanga Peninsula. Zamboanga City will have one more center. In Zamboanga del Norte, new centers will be allocated for Kalawit, Sindangan, and Sirawai, along with two more in locations yet to be specified. Zamboanga del Sur is designated to have Super Health Centers in Dumingag and Pitogo, as well as two additional centers in undisclosed locations. Finally, new centers in Zamboanga Sibugay care located in Ipil and Titay, plus one more in an unspecified location.

"Sa mga itinayo nang Super Health Centers, nakita namin kung gaano kalaki ang naitutulong nito sa komunidad lalo na sa rural areas. 'Yun po ang layunin ng mga Super Health Centers, ang ilapit sa mamamayan ang serbisyong medikal ng gobyerno," he added.

Meanwhile, Go is also the principal author and sponsor of RA 11463, or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019. Malasakit Centers bring together representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), DOH, PhilHealth, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

These one-stop shops aim to support impoverished patients in reducing their hospital costs to the least possible amount. These centers, nine of which are in the Zamboanga Peninsula, have already aided more than seven million Filipinos nationwide.

Malasakit Centers in the region are located at the Zamboanga City Medical Center, Jose Rizal Memorial Hospital in Dapitan City, ZaNorte Medical Center in Dipolog City, and Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center in Pagadian City. Additional centers can be found in Margosatubig Regional Hospital, Mindanao Central Sanitarium, Basilan General Hospital, Labuan General Hospital, and Dr. George T. Hofer Medical Center in Ipil.

"Sa mga pasyente, lapitan niyo lang ang Malasakit Center dahil para 'to sa inyo. Kung may hospital bill kayo, nandiyan ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno na tutulong para mabayaran ito," said Go.

Go highlighted these healthcare initiatives he championed as vital components in improving the well-being of communities in Zamboanga and in the whole of Mindanao.

"These initiatives do not only aim to strengthen the healthcare system but to build a nation where every Filipino can live a healthier, more dignified life," he said.

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