Press Release
November 9, 2023

Bong Go pledges continued support for healthcare sector during 36th Founding Anniversary of DOH-Metro Manila Center for Health Development

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, personally attended the 36th founding anniversary celebration of the Department of Health-Metro Manila Center for Health Development (DOH-MMCHD) at Century Park Hotel in Manila on Tuesday, November 7.

"As the chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, it is my duty and privilege to work towards improving the quality and accessibility of healthcare services for all Filipinos," Go said in his speech as he reaffirmed his commitment to bolstering the country's healthcare sector.

Among his key priorities is his continued support for the full implementation of the Universal Health Care Act of 2019, a legislation that aims to provide affordable and accessible healthcare services to all Filipinos.

"The passage of the Universal Health Care Act in 2019 marked a significant milestone in our journey towards achieving a more equitable and comprehensive healthcare system. However, the implementation of this law is not without its challenges," acknowledged Go.

"Alam kong napakalayo pa talaga sa ngayon 'yung talagang implementation nitong UHC. Noon, naaprubahan po ito, napirmahan ni dating pangulong Rodrigo Duterte noong 2019, napakalayo pa sa ating inaasam na perpekto po na UHC... It is therefore important for our health agencies, led by the DOH and PhilHealth to exert extra effort in ensuring that the goals and objectives of the UHC will be achieved," he stressed.

Go said that as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, the Senate has successfully pushed for the inclusion of a special provision in the budget of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), which specifies the use of the P21 billion subsidy for benefit package improvement. The package includes dialysis coverage, mental health outpatient coverage, improvement of Z-Benefit packages, severe acute malnutrition, all case rates, rationalization of selected medical and surgical procedures, and the implementation of the comprehensive outpatient benefit package, including free consultation fees, laboratory tests, other diagnostic services, outpatient drug benefit, and emergency medical services.

Meanwhile, Go's other notable healthcare initiative is his support for the continued operations of Malasakit Centers across the nation. These centers serve as one-stop shops for particularly poor and indigent patients, providing access to available medical assistance and making healthcare more accessible.

Republic Act 11463 or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, was principally authored and sponsored by Go. So far, more than seven million Filipinos have benefited from the Malasakit Centers according to DOH.

Moreover, Go discussed the construction of Super Health Centers nationwide, which aims to bring basic healthcare services to various localities. Super Health Centers are strategically designed to place emphasis on delivering primary care, offering consultations, and enhancing the early detection of diseases in the grassroots.

Through the collaborative efforts of fellow lawmakers, local government units, and DOH, sufficient funds were allocated for 307 Super Health Centers nationwide in 2022 and 322 in 2023. DOH, the lead implementing agency, is tasked with identifying strategic areas for construction.

"In terms of healthcare infrastructure, I am glad to report that we have passed 69 laws in the 18th Congress to establish or upgrade public hospitals all over the country. I also want to particularly highlight that with the DOH and the help of fellow legislators, we have included in the 2022 and 2023 budgets the construction of Super Health Centers. Adequate funding has been allocated for the establishment of 307 Super Health Centers in 2022 and 322 more in 2023," shared Go.

In addition to Super Health Centers, Go also highlighted the enacted law mandating the creation of Regional Specialty Centers within DOH hospitals. Through RA 11959, which he principally sponsored and is one of the authors in the Senate, these centers will focus on specialized healthcare services, further enhancing the capacity and capabilities of public healthcare institutions to treat a wider range of medical conditions.

Recognizing the dedication of healthcare workers, Go also shared RA 11712, which he is one of the authors and co-sponsors in the Senate. The Act grants benefits and allowances to public and private healthcare workers during public health emergencies. He earlier reminded concerned agencies to ensure that the allowances and benefits as provided by law that are due to qualified HCWs must be released immediately despite the lifting of the state of public health emergency.

In 2019, the lawmaker was instrumental in the enactment of RA 11466 or the Salary Standardization Law 5 (SSL 5) as one of its authors and co-sponsors in the Senate. The measure provides all civilian government employees, including medical professionals working in the public sector, increased salaries broken down in tranches. The senator also expressed his support for the proposed Salary Standardization Law 6, building upon the success of SSL 5.

In the same year, he also ensured that enough funding was allocated for the implementation of the 2019 Supreme Court decision that upheld Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002, which sets the minimum salary grade of the Nurse I position at SG-15.

Go also stressed the need to intensify government's efforts on mental health and other diseases such as cancer.

For mental health, Go emphasized the need to strengthen the implementation of RA 11036, also known as the Philippine Mental Health Act. He also proposed the passage of Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1786, which mandates public higher education institutions (HEIs) to establish Mental Health Offices on the campuses. In addition, Go has co-authored and co-sponsored SBN 2200 or the proposed Basic Education Mental Health and Well-Being Promotion Act.

He then pointed out that the Cancer Assistance Fund (CAF) for this year was set at P500 million through the collective efforts of lawmakers last year. Go proposed that the budget be doubled to P1 billion for the next year.

"Sa dami ng cancer patients na nangangailangan ng tulong, dapat patuloy na pataasin ang budget para sa cancer assistance fund. Mahirap magkasakit lalo na cancer dahil talagang pipilayan ang pamilya, halos hindi na po nakakatrabaho 'yan, nakafocus na po sa pagpapagamot," expressed Go.

"Let us continue to work together towards achieving a truly universal and equitable healthcare system. I believe that through collaboration and cooperation, we can overcome the challenges we face and build a brighter future for the health and well-being of all Filipinos," he concluded.

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