A legislator on Wednesday said President Rodrigo Duterte has provided the poor with more health benefits as he signed a law that institutionalizes the Malasakit Centers that are tasked with providing the indigent quality medical and primary health care.
The Malasakit Center complement the existing health facilities of the Department of Health and local governments in addition to facilitating the medical assistance offered by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte said.
Republic Act 11463 or the Malasakit Center Law, also complements the Universal Health Care Program and ensures that its benefits reach the grassroots, Villafuerte said.
“The Malasakit Centers will fill the gaps in the delivery of health care services in the country,” said Villafuerte, principal author of the bill. “We consider this an advance Christmas gift to our countrymen who find it hard to make ends meet and often have to borrow money to be able to receive medical care.”
The Senate version of the Malasakit Center Law was introduced by former chief presidential aide and now Senator Christopher Go.
In Villafuerte’s proposal, the Malasakit Centers will be “health system enablers” designed to improve patient assistance and referral and provide additional non-medical support to poor Filipinos in need of medical treatment.
Even with a UHC program in place, Villafuerte, a deputy speaker for finance, said: “inefficiencies are expected to still abound in delivering quality health service to Filipinos, especially for marginalized families unable to afford medical care.”
“Such inefficiencies will be corrected by setting up Malasakit centers across the country,” he said.
The bill’s intention, he said, is to institutionalize the Malasakit Centers and set them up in all government-run hospitals.
In his 4th State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA), President Duterte called on the Congress to urgently pass the measure, which he credits his former special assistant—Sen. Go—for conceptualizing.
A Malasakit Center is a designated spot in a hospital where poor patients can go to seek financial assistance for medical needs from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).