As part of Bong Go’s pursuit of improved access to quality health care in the country
On Thursday, October 7, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go personally attended the launch of the country’s 142nd Malasakit Center at Valenzuela Medical Center in Valenzuela City as part of his many efforts to improve health services and reduce health disparities in the country.
This is the second Malasakit Center in the city following the one in Valenzuela City Emergency Hospital which was launched in August of 2019. It is also the 27th Malasakit Center in Metro Manila, and the 77th in Luzon.
In his speech, Go, who also serves as the Chair of Senate Committee on Health and Demography, cited that after witnessing the struggles of low-income Filipinos to get quality health care, it pushed him to develop more health care policies that aim to improve access to medical care services.
“Ang Malasakit Center po ay batas na, isinulong ko noon kasama si Congressman Wes, Congressman Eric, Senator Win Gatchalian. Ang target po ng Malasakit Center zero balance para wala na po kayong babayaran sa inyong pagpapaospital. Para po ‘yan sa mga poor and indigent patients. Basta Pilipino ka, qualified ka po sa Malasakit Center,” Go explained.
“Sabi ko bakit natin pahirapan ‘yung Pilipino… eh sa totoo lang pera n’yo ‘yan. Pera n’yo ‘yan, inyo po ‘yan, dapat po ibalik sa inyo sa mabilis na serbisyo. Iyan po ang Malasakit Center, inyo po ‘yan,” Go continued.
The Malasakit Center brings together partnered agencies, including the Department of Health, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, to work hand in hand and ensure that medical assistance programs are more accessible to particularly poor and indigent patients.
Principally authored and sponsored by Go, the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019 mandates all DOH-run hospitals and the Philippine General Hospital to establish their own Malasakit Centers while other public hospitals may open their own provided they meet the standard criteria and can guarantee the sustainability of its operations.
In line with his hospital visits across the country, Go shared how he saw the challenges faced by many public hospitals which often lack the necessary resources and manpower to meet the needs of their patients. As he recently joined the race for the country’s second-highest post, Go committed that he will continue to push for measures that will enhance and improve hospital services all over the country.
“Hindi po ako titigil po sa mga programang makakabuti po sa ating mga kababayan, ipagpapatuloy ko po ang mga nasimulan,” Go emphasized.
“Tulad nitong Malasakit Center kung nakakatulong naman po sa mga kababayan natin, ipagpapatuloy natin,” he continued.
Senator Go conveyed his gratitude towards the hospital staff and other medical frontliners for their dedicated service to their community despite threats posed by the pandemic. On this note, the Senator, together with DOH, committed to help allocate necessary funds to further help improve the health services in Valenzuela Medical Center.
“Alam niyo, mga frontliners, hindi po nababayaran ng kahit ano man pong insentibo ang serbisyo ninyo ngayon. Kakaibang sakripisyo ang ginagawa ninyo at napakahirap po nitong labang ito,” Go expressed.
“Kaya sa mga frontliners, kaunting tiis lang po, habaan niyo po ang inyong mga pasensya, kayo po ang nakakaalam sa laban na ito, kumbaga sa sundalo, kayo ‘yung sinasabak sa giyera,” he added.
Go then appealed to the public to participate in the national vaccination program as he reiterated that vaccines against COVID-19 will not only boost their body’s defenses but will also help in the country’s return to normalcy.
Following the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte to open the vaccination roll-out to the general public, Go asked local leaders to work closely with the national government to ensure an efficient vaccination drive in their community.
“Huwag kayong maging kumpyansa kahit na bumababa ang kaso dahil po ‘yan siguro naging epektibo na po ‘yung pagpapabakuna. So ngayon po, mayroon na tayong 76% na po ng Pilipino ang bakunado, patungo na po tayo sa population protection at herd immunity. Pero huwag pa rin maging kumpyansa,” Go appealed,
“Antayin muna natin makamtan natin yung herd immunity, huwag ho natin sayangin ‘yung pinagpaguran natin na makamtan ngayon,” Go added.
After the launch, Go’s outreach team distributed grocery packs, meals, masks, face shields, and vitamins to 136 patients, and 830 frontliners. Some of them also received new pairs of shoes, bicycles, or computer tablets.
Furthermore, representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development gave financial assistance to the patients and 337 rank and file employees of Valenzuela Medical Center.
In an interview, Iris Flores, 37, mentioned that even if she is fully vaccinated, she struggles everyday knowing that her job as a utility worker in the hospital makes her more prone to the virus but she remains dedicated to sustain her family’s needs.
“Sir Senador Bong Go, talagang hindi n’yo pinapabayaan kaming lahat na mahihirap at mga nangangailangan ng tulong po sa inyo. Maraming, maraming po salamat po, Senador Bong Go, saka po kay Mr. President Duterte,” Flores expressed.
Meanwhile, Valenzuela Medical Center Chief Dr. Maria Estrella B. Litam appealed in her speech to continue focusing on primary health care to ensure that more of their constituents can access quality medical services.
“I hope we can finally see it rising with your help and with your endorsement. Kung sino man tayo at ano man tayo, alalahanin natin na we are all Filipinos and we are working for the Filipinos,” Litam expressed.
The ceremony was also attended by Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, Office of the President Assistant Secretary Girlie Veloso, Undersecretaries Jonjie Gonzales and Debold Sinas, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, Representatives Weslie “Wes” Gatchalian and Eric Martinez, Mayor Rexlon “Rex” Gatchalian, and many others.
Senator Go then proceeded to visit the Malasakit Center in Valenzuela City Emergency Hospital to monitor and personally check and assist to the needs of the center.
As Vice Chair of Senate Committee on Finance, Go extended his support in the acquisition of ambulance units, and the construction of a seven-storey Valenzuela Center for Academic Excellence in Brgy. Malinta to ensure the economic recovery of the community.