Seventy-year-old Felipa Academia did not mind the sweltering heat on Monday afternoon as she waited for the approval of her request for medical assistance. She was there on behalf of her ailing sister, who needs a 2D Echo (two-dimensional Echocardiography) procedure and some medicines.
“Kugi lang ug linya dinhi (Just be diligent and patient in queuing here),” said Academia, who herself has been benefitting from the health assistance offered by the government. Her sister’s hospital bill totaled to PHP4,000, excluding other laboratory fees.
“Dako na kayo na ug tabang (That’s a big help),” Academia said, as she also received assistance for her own medicines worth PHP3,000.
Academia, resident of Cabantian, Buhangin, was among the hundreds of Dabawenyos and other relatives of patients from other provinces in Mindanao that queued at the Malasakit Center opened by Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Secretary Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Monday here.
Go said the Davao Malasakit Center located inside the compound of the Department of Health (DoH)-11 across the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), is the 12th Malasakit Center in the country.
Go was thankful to Mayor Sara Duterte for agreeing to the partnership with the city’s Kalinga ng Bayan — a one-stop-shop, offering medical assistance to the Dabawenyos.
“Dinhi gyud nagsugod ng programa (It is here where the program) Lingap started,” Go said during the opening of the center.
Go said the President only expanded the program to all the Filipinos.
The Kalinga ng Bayan is an offshoot of the Lingap sa Mahirap Program of the city government that started giving assistance to indigents since the administration of then mayor, now President Rodrigo Duterte. Lingap is giving assistance from hospitalization and medicines to burial services.
Go said the Malasakit Center houses six agencies — the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, PhilHealth and the city government.
The center, Go said, will get PHP30 million funds from the office of President Duterte, on top of the PHP100 million funds from the city government.
Go said people can avail of the government’s health assistance through the Malasakit Centers.
There are already six Malasakit Centers in the Visayas, one in Palawan, six in Mindanao and one at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.
He said Malasakit Centers will also be established in Bulacan and Pampanga.
Academia said she never shelled out money from her pockets except for her jeepney fare.
“Wala gyud ko’y gasto. Pamiliti lang,” she told the Philippine News Agency in an interview on the sidelines of the opening of the Malasakit Center.
Josephine Mitaran, the Pagkalinga sa Bayan Officer-in-Charge, said the Center gets PHP30 million from the President’s Socio Civic Project Fund and the PHP100 million set aside by the city government annually.
Mitaran said the Center serves between 500-700 patients per day.
“We try our very best that patients will get a zero-balance bill,” Mitaran said in an interview.
The center gives medicines and foots the hospital bills.
“There is no money given to the patient. We only give letter guarantee for the government to pay the hospital bills,” she said, adding that patients in private hospitals get assistance for hospital bills.
Go said people asking for medical assistance do not have to present other requirements. Elderlies and persons with disabilities will be given special lanes, he said.
The Office of the President also allocated PHP25 million for the construction of the Malasakit Center in the city. Go said it is the only Malasakit Center building constructed by the government.
“Dili na mo mag antos sa kainit diri sa gawas (You will no longer sacrifice the heat outside),” Go said.
The facility is a three-storey building that will provide easy access or one-stop-shop for the patients and make them comfortable waiting for their turn.
Go said waiting time will take a little bit longer because of the number of people availing of the medical assistance.
He, however, assured that the staff members at the Center are trying their best to make everyone comfortable. (Lilian C Mellejor/PNA)