Government expands, monitors Malasakit Centers
To expand further the reach of the government’s medical assistance programs, particularly in Region 02, two more Malasakit Centers were opened on March 1 and 2, 2022, at the Batanes General Hospital and Quirino Provincial Medical Center, respectively.
The other Malasakit Centers in the area are located at the Region II Trauma and Medical Center in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya; Faustino N. Dy, Sr. Memorial Hospital in Ilagan City, Isabela; Southern Isabela Medical Center in Santiago City; and Cagayan Valley Medical Center in Tuguegarao City.
The Malasakit Centers Program, which was institutionalized through Republic Act No. 11463 authored and sponsored by Senate Committee on Health Chairperson Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go., is “in adherence to the declared policy of the State to improve the delivery of healthcare services to the people, and to ensure access to and efficiency in the process of availing medical and financial assistance to fund health services.”
Specifically, the Program has the mandate of (1) providing a policy framework for integrated people-centered health services that shall (a) ensure and promote an organizational culture geared towards responsiveness, (b) ensure appropriate infrastructure and processes, and (c) promote client engagement and empowerment; and (2) ensuring financial risk protection and alleviate the financial burden of the indigent and financially incapacitated patients and families who avail of health services in public hospitals through financial and medical assistance provided by national government agencies.
The Centers thus bring together agencies that offer medical assistance under a standardized system, which include the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). They also serve to facilitate access to similar programs provided by other agencies, local government units, non-governmental organizations, private institutions, and individuals.
The Program is all part of the government’s earnest efforts (a) to effectively address the continuing challenge of providing a streamlined way for the citizenry, especially the poor and indigent, to have more equitable access to quality healthcare services, and (b) to reduce costly hospital bills to the lowest amount possible by covering various patient services and expenses, which were made even more difficult by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Law stresses that the Malasakit Centers shall be non-partisan, convenient, free of charge, accessible, and shall have a standard system of availing of assistance.
It also cautions unscrupulous public officials and employees and all other persons as it provides some sanctions for the commission of unethical and fraudulent acts, and abuse of authority, among others.
On account of some disinformation attempts and to eliminate all other glitches that have potential adverse effects on the Malasakit Centers Program, the DILG, through Memorandum Circular No. 2021-138, mobilized its regional offices, and has also written local chief executives (governors, city/municipal mayors, and punong barangays), and others concerned to help in the conduct of information and advocacy campaign on the proper implementation of R.A. No. 11463.