NEW MALASAKIT CENTER. The country’s 141st Malasakit Center opens at the West Visayas State University Medical Center (WVSUMC) on Thursday (Sept. 16, 2021). In his virtual message, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go urged that the center's services be maximized to assist indigent patients. (PNA photo courtesy of L’ Michelli Horlador)

ILOILO CITY – The country’s 141st Malasakit Center opened at the West Visayas State University Medical Center (WVSUMC) on Thursday, to cater to more sick Filipinos in need of financial assistance.

Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who joined the virtual launching, said the Malasakit Center gathers the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Philippine Health Insurance System (PhilHealth), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Health (DOH) in a one-stop-shop to assist indigent patients.

“The target of Malasakit Center is zero balance for poor and indigent patients. My only appeal is to provide an express lane for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens so they will no longer have to queue,” he said.

Go announced that the center will initially have a PHP10-million fund and another PHP5 million will be added before the year ends.

Monthly, a PHP5-million fund will be allotted by the Office of the President subject to replenishment, he added.

“Please maximize this for our indigent patients so we can help them,” the senator said.

In his message, Dr. Dave Endel R. Gelito III, OIC medical center chief, said the inauguration of the Malasakit Center will boost the hospital’s delivery of health care services not just to Ilonggos but also to residents of nearby provinces.

“This program would greatly benefit our indigent or service patients by providing them the much-needed financial assistance,” he said, adding that they are assured of access to quality medical care without thinking of the financial burden.

Dr. Joselito Villaruz, West Visayas State University president, said it was indeed a blessing that President Rodrigo Duterte and Go addressed their request for the establishment of the center “to provide help for financially challenged and disadvantaged patients”.

Meanwhile, Go appealed to the public not to waste the opportunity to be vaccinated against coronavirus disease.

He noted that the government is studying the possibility of opening the vaccination program to the general public to achieve mass protection.

During the launching of the Malasakit Center, rank and file employees of the WVSUMC with Salary Grade 11 and below each received PHP3,000 under the assistance for individuals in crisis situation (AICS) program.

Go also provided 15 bicycles, 15 computer tablets and 20 pairs of shoes that were raffled off to hospital employees.

Grocery packs, vitamins, face masks and face shields were likewise sent for distribution to some 1,180 front-liners. (PNA)