DAVAO CITY—Bangsamoro Government’s Ministry of Health (MOH) is working towards improving access to healthcare programs for indigent patients in the region.
This came after the successful conduct of the 2023 Malasakit Center’s inaugural consultative meeting for the Mindanao and Visayas regions from Oct. 4 to 6.
With 195 delegates, the said consultation is part of the ongoing efforts of the MOH, in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH), to enhance the implementation of the Malasakit Program and Medical Assistance to Indigent Patients (MAIP).
Dr. Rizaldy Piang, MOH Minister, commended the compassionate efforts of the delegates and emphasized the importance of consultation in decision-making, in line with Islamic principles.
“Activity like this is very welcome and important because this is in line with the tenets of Islam, on the aspect of consultation or Shura, which means we will not decide on our own without consulting others,” Piang stated.
He urged all participants to ensure that decisions made during the event would directly benefit indigent patients, emphasizing the collective commitment to providing healthcare support.
Key highlights of the event included presentations of accomplishments, discussions of new guidelines, and an open forum to address challenges in implementing the MAIP program.
Currently, there are 159 Malasakit Centers nationwide, with a significant presence in Mindanao and Visayas. These centers serve as one-stop-shop facilities within DOH-run hospitals and LGU-Hospitals, connecting indigent and financially incapacitated patients with support from various agencies.
Former Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Tesoro Go conceptualized the Malasakit Center as a one-stop shop facility within the premises of all DOH- run hospitals and LGU-Hospital with MCs.
These centers aid indigent and financially incapacitated patients, connecting them with support from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
While these efforts are commendable, DOH Undersecretary Abdullah Dumama shared he envisions a future where all hospitals offer free medical services, eliminating complex paperwork and ensuring accessible healthcare for all Filipinos.
“I am dreaming that in the future there will be no more MAIP. No more MAIP in the sense that I want to have free medical services in all hospitals where all the funds are readily available for the patients,” Dumama said.
Girlie Veloso, Director IV of the Malasakit Program Office, mentioned that they want to strengthen the collaboration and partnership among stakeholders to ensure that the plans of the program being made are maintained, expanded, and further enhanced.
“As of August 2023, the DOH has already served around 2.7 million patients, this number as you speak is increasing, and a testament to what we can achieve if we work together,” Veloso said.
Besides MAIP, the Bangsamoro Government actively backs several healthcare initiatives, including Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim’s flagship program, Ayudang Medical Mula sa Bangsamoro Government (AMBaG), offering medical support to diverse groups within and beyond the Bangsamoro jurisdiction.
Currently, AMBaG has served 84,919 patients with incurred Php516,090,334.49 funds from the Bangsamoro Government.
Aside from this, Bangsamoro indigents can also avail of free medicines and medical procedures from the Transitional Development Impact Fund (TDIF) Project.
During the consultation, a proposition to rename MAIP as “Medical Assistance to Indigent and Financially Incapacitated Patients (MAIFIP) Program” was also put forward to make the program more inclusive. (Kasan Usop, Jr./BIO)