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158th Malasakit Center opens in Guagua, Pampanga

GUAGUA, Pampanga — Marking another milestone in the government’s continuous efforts to provide accessible healthcare services to Filipinos, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, led the inauguration of the 158th Malasakit Center inside Diosdado P. Macapagal Memorial Hospital in Guagua on Friday afternoon (June 9).

In his speech, Go expressed his gratitude to his fellow public servants, including Department of Health Secretary Teodoro “Ted” Herbosa, Governor Dennis Pineda, and Vice Governor Nanay Lilia Pineda, for sharing the same advocacy in ensuring that no Filipino is left behind when it comes to medical care.

“Ang dapat natin pasalamatan ay ang ating mga frontliners (para sa) kanilang sakripisyo sa panahon ng pandemya. Hindi po natin mararating ito kung hindi po dahil sa sakripisyo ng mga doktor, nurses, lahat, even the security guards, mga utility men, kasama po sila sa nagsakripisyo. Maraming salamat po sa ating mga medical frontliners,” remarked Go.

“Kasama na diyan si Dr. Ted Herbosa. Kasama siya sa mga frontliners noon… siya yung IATF adviser nung panahon ng pandemya. Sila yung inaatasan ni (dating) pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte na i-solve yung problema (ng pandemya). Walang pinipiling oras, kahit madaling araw, andiyan po sila. Kung ang pag-uusapan lang ay experience sa COVID-19 response, and even sa public service, alam na alam ni Dr. Herbosa ang (gagawin sa) problema,” he expressed.

For his part, DOH Secretary Herbosa maintained that he will prioritize pro-poor programs as part of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s directive, solidifying the government’s dedication to ensuring equitable access to healthcare for all Filipinos, saying, “Utos ho sakin ng Presidente yung tutukan ang mahihirap at tsaka yung nangangailangan. Yun ang promise ko sa kanya nung tinanggap ko ang pagiging Secretary of Health.”

“Yun ang marching orders ng President, ang (tutukan) ang TB at HIV (cases na) tumataas and, of course, yung tulungan ang mga mahihirap. (Kaso) tapos na ang trabaho ko doon kasi may Malasakit Center na (inilunsad) si Bong Go… Malaki po itong tulung mula dito. Again, ang call ng ating President ay ‘unity’. Tulungan tayo, PhilHealth, PCSO, DSWD, Office of Senator (Go), at local government. Kapag tayo ay nagtulung-tulong, kahit sino mang mahirap diyan ay matutulungan natin. Mabuhay kayong lahat at mabuhay ka Senator Go sa iyong (initiative) na Malasakit Center,” Herbosa highlighted.

Meanwhile, Vice Governor Pineda took the opportunity to commend Go for initiating the Malasakit Centers program that has helped more than seven million Filipinos, according to the DOH. She then highlighted the significance of Go’s efforts in transforming the healthcare landscape in Pampanga and beyond.

The Vice Governor also emphasized that the Malasakit Centers have become instrumental in alleviating the financial burden of medical expenses, ensuring that no one is left behind in their pursuit of proper healthcare.

“Dito sa Pampanga… yung Malasakit Center… kahit nung hindi pa naging batas, napapaiyak talaga (ang mga natulungan). Kaya hindi ka nila makakalimutan dito, Senator,” Pineda expressed.

“Para sa mga mahihirap talaga siya. Kaya nagpapasalamat kami, kami ni Governor, at naglagay tayo dito sa ating provincial hospital para hindi na sila lumayo. Kaya sa aming mga Kapampangan, hinding-hindi ka namin makakalimutan. Maraming salamat, Senator,” she continued.

The Malasakit Center, a brainchild of Senator Go, aims to streamline and expedite the delivery of medical assistance to particularly poor and indigent patients by consolidating the services of various government agencies under one roof.

The program was launched in 2018 and was later institutionalized under Republic Act No. 11463 or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which Go principally authored and sponsored in the Senate.

The Malasakit Center at Diosdado P. Macapagal Memorial Hospital in Guagua is the 4th in the province of Pampanga, together with those at Rafael Lazatin Memorial Medical Center in Angeles City; and at Overseas Filipino Workers Hospital and Diagnostic Center and Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital, both in San Fernando City.

Continuing his remarks, Go called upon DOH Secretary Herbosa and other health officials to prioritize the well-being of Filipinos, particularly the poor during these difficult times. Recognizing the crucial role played by Malasakit Centers in providing accessible healthcare to those in need, Senator Go emphasized the need for robust support systems to ensure that every Filipino, particularly the poor and indigents, receives the necessary medical assistance they deserve.

“Noong tumawag po ako sa kanya (Herbosa) to congratulate (him), isa lang ang naging pakiusap ko sa kanya. Sir, unahin po natin yung mga mahihirap, yung mga pro-poor programs po. Huwag natin pahirapan ang mga Pilipino… Tulungan natin sila. Ilapit natin yung serbisyong medikal sa ating mga kababayan,” Go urged.

“Suportado ko po kayo basta po yung mga programang makakatulong sa mga mahihirap and, of course, to improve our healthcare system. Mas mabuting handa tayo parati,” he highlighted.

During the inauguration, Go also provided assistance to 120 in-patients, 174 out-patients, and 378 front liners, including security guards, utilities, and hospital staff, who received food packs, masks, vitamins, and snacks. The senator also gave away bicycles, cellular phones, shoes, shirts, and balls for basketball and volleyball to select recipients.

Additionally, a team from the Department of Social Welfare and Development extended financial assistance to qualified patients.

The inauguration was also attended by other officials, including DOH Undersecretary Enrique Tayag, Assistant Secretary Atty. Charade Mercado-Grande, Malasakit Program Office Director Girlie Veloso, DOH Central Luzon Center for Health Development Director Corazon Flores and Asst. Regional Director Lailani Mangulabnan, and Provincial DOH Office Pampanga Development Management Officer Dr. Amelito Nicolas, among others. (UnliNews Online)

Manny D. Balbin
Manny D. Balbin
Emmanuel "Manny" Dineros Balbin, founder and editor-in-chief of UNLINEWS ONLINE and UNLINEWS Digital Newspaper, is a former seminarian of Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) in Notre Dame University Seminary in Cotabato City. Graduated college with Philosophy and Political Science courses at the University of Santo Tomas, Legazpi City. A former Journal Group of Publication (People's Journal, People's Tonight, Taliba & Women's Journal) staffer for 17 years. Before, he simultaneously contributed news articles to 3 local newspapers in Bulacan (NewsCore, MetroNews & NewsWatcher). He is the founder and the former editor-in-chief of RONDA Balita, both in weekly newspaper and online news. A former Kabayan provincial reporter, 2010 Bulacan election correspondent by Rappler and presently, a stringer of Philippine News Agency (PNA) Bulacan.


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