Go recognizes sacrifices of health workers

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go recognized the sacrifices and selfless service of healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic during the launch of the country’s 103rd Malasakit Center at the Carcar Provincial Hospital (CPH) in Carcar City, Cebu on Tuesday, April 27.

The CPH is the sixth hospital in Cebu to establish its own Malasakit Center, in addition to the Eversley Childs Sanitarium & General Hospital in Mandaue City, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center and St. Anthony Mother and Child Hospital in Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City District Hospital, and Talisay City District Hospital.

Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, said he and President Duterte thank the frontliners of region 7.

He cited the doctors and nurses of Cebu who volunteered to serve in Metro Manila which is being savaged by coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Go assured healthcare workers of his and the President’s unwavering support.

The senator from Davao has consistently pushed for better compensation of nurses through the passage of Salary Standardization Law V which he authored, and the allocation of funds for the implementation of the Supreme Court decision to raise the entry level salary grades of public sector nurses, among others.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Go also successfully appealed for the release of the active hazard pay and special risk allowance benefits for health workers.

To address the need of the country for more health professionals, the Senator appealed to National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to include the personnel of the Professional Regulatory Board, such as volunteer proctors and watchers, in Priority Group A4 of the government's vaccination program.

He further asked authorities to consider pre-board nursing graduates who are scheduled to take their board exams in 2021 in the priority list without prejudice to already identified priority sectors and depending on the scheduled availability of additional vaccine doses.

Go admitted the challenges facing the country amid a huge unmet global demand for COVID-19 vaccines. With supplies limited, he reminded local authorities to adhere to the vaccine prioritization framework in order to ensure the country’s healthcare workers and most vulnerable citizens are inoculated first.

The Malasakit Center began as a convergence initiative of the Office of the President in 2018 in coordination with the Office of the Presidential Assistant to the Visayas. The first center of its kind was established in Cebu. To institutionalize the program, Go authored the measure that became Republic Act No. 11463, otherwise known as the ‘Malasakit Centers Act of 2019’.

The Malasakit Center is a one-stop shop where poor and indigent patients can conveniently avail medical assistance from the relevant government agencies, namely, the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

The law mandates every hospital run by the DOH, including the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, to establish their own center. Other public hospitals may also establish their own center provided they comply with a set of criteria to ensure the sustainability of the operations.

After the activity, representatives of the DSWD distributed financial assistance to 86 indigent patients. Go’s staff provided each beneficiary with meals, food packs, vitamins, masks and face shields while observing health and safety protocols. They also gave select members of the hospital staff bicycles for their commuting needs as well as computer tablets for their children to use.

After the ceremony, he proceeded to the new Carcar City Public Market where he led the distribution of aid to hundreds of members of the local Tricycle Operators and Drivers' Association, habal-habal drivers and delicacies vendors. Go also attended the quincentennial anniversary commemorations of the Victory of Mactan in Lapu-Lapu City earlier that day.

Among those who attended the launch were Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Lloyd Dino, Deputy Speaker and 3rd District Representative Pablo John Garcia, 7th District Rep. Peter Calderon, and Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.

During the event, Go also acknowledged Carcar City Mayor Mercy Apura and Vice Mayor Nice Apura, Talisay City Mayor Samsam Gullas, Minglanilla Mayor Lani Pena, Sibonga Mayor Lionel Bacalso, San Fernando Mayor Neneth Reluya, Argao Mayor Allan Sesaldo, Oslob Mayor Jun Tumulak, Boljoon Mayor Merlou Derama, Samboan Mayor Tito Calderon Jr., Alcoy Mayor Michael Sestoso, Dumanjug Mayor Gungun Gica, Ronda Mayor Terence Blanco, Alegria Mayor Verna Magallon, Badian Mayor Carmen Lumain, and Barili Mayor Julie Flores.