CEBU CITY – The Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) highlighted on Friday the impact of the 10 Malasakit Centers in Central Visayas that stopped the circuitous processing of medical aid for poor patients admitted in public hospitals.
Sonia Cal, OPAV Malasakit Center coordinator, said during the “Duterte Legacy: Barangayanihan Caravan Towards National Recovery" in Talisay City that thousands of patients nationwide have processed their applications for assistance in 144 Malasakit Centers.
The first Malasakit Center was launched by President Rodrigo Duterte at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) here on Feb. 12, 2018, while the 144th was launched at the Marinduque Provincial Hospital in Boac, Marinduque on October 19.
Cal told the participants of the caravan that in the five years of the Duterte administration, the Filipino people have felt the ease and comfort in seeking government assistance for the hospital bill of the patients confined in medical centers run by the Department of Health (DOH) or those funded by local governments.
“What was the reason why Duterte and Senator (Christopher Lawrence) Bong Go opened Malasakit Centers in government hospitals? It was because when he was the mayor of Davao City, he saw many relatives of patients coming from different provinces who would seek for medical assistance in Davao City Hall. Due to the limit of aid that a mayor could give, Duterte made a promise that if ever he would get elected as president, he would institutionalize a one-stop shop of processing the assistance,” she said.
With the center, Cal said a patient’s relative no longer needs to visit various government agencies to process the request to shoulder the hospital bill.
A Malasakit Center houses the social worker of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and personnel of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), and DOH.
Cal said these agencies may not turn a patient’s hospital bill into zero, but she said Duterte and Go downloaded a budget to answer for additional assistance on top of the aid processes in a Malasakit Center.
“The Duterte administration endeavors to enable a zero balance bill for every patient seeking assistance before our Malasakit Centers,” she added.
In Central Visayas, the 10 Malasakit Centers can be found at the VSMMC in Cebu City; Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital in Dumaguete City; Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Tagbilaran City; Siquijor Provincial Hospital in Siquijor; Eversley Child Sanitarium and General Hospital in Mandaue City; Talisay District Hospital in Talisay City; St. Anthony Mother and Child Hospital in Basak San Nicolas, Cebu City; Lapu-Lapu City Hospital in Lapu-Lapu City; Don Emilio del Valle Memorial Hospital; and Carcar Provincial Hospital in Carcar City.
Duterte signed Republic Act 11463 or the Malasakit Center Act into law on Dec. 3, 2019, mandating the establishment of Malasakit Centers in all hospitals under the DOH and the Philippine General Hospital.
The law also authorizes the Philippine National Police to establish such a center in its camps.
Assistant Secretary Girlie Veloso, head of Malasakit Center project of the Office of the President, told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview that the 145th Malasakit Center will soon be launched at a PNP hospital inside Camp Crame in Quezon City.
Veloso said before the year ends, Duterte and Go would launch more Malasakit Centers to answer the requests of local chief executives to open this one-stop-shop medical aid processing in their localities. (PNA)