President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing into law of the measure institutionalizing Malasakit Centers in hospitals run by the Department of Health (DOH) comes as good news to the public amid the results of a recent survey showing that 99 percent of Filipinos could not afford to buy prescription medicines, a House official said on Monday.
Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte said institutionalizing Malasakit Centers across the country would help fulfill the President’s ultimate goal of a safe and comfortable life for every Filipino.
The President last year signed Republic Act 1463—the Malasakit Center Act—that aimed to establish a one-stop-shop center for medical and financial assistance provided by the DOH, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in all 73 DOH-run hospitals nationwide.
“With the signing of this new law, we call on the DOH to start setting up Malasakit Centers in state-run hospitals,” Villafuerte, principal author of this measure in the House of Representatives, said.
“It can start by turning DOH-run hospitals into major outlets for cheaper medicines sold by pharmaceutical firms as a way to further widen the access of ordinary Filipinos to affordable drugs and better health care.”
Villafuerte, of Camarines Sur’s Second District, issued the call following results of the latest Ulat ng Bayan survey conducted by Pulse Asia showing 99 percent of Filipinos cannot buy their prescribed medicines because of high prices.
He supported the DOH’s proposal to place 122 drugs for hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung diseases, neonatal diseases and major cancers under a Maximum Drug Retail Price (MDRP) list.
“Expanding the MRDP list, along with the establishment of Malasakit Centers, will complement the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) program,” Villafuerte said.
Villafuerte has pointed out that setting up Malasakit Centers nationwide will help fill the gaps in the delivery of health care services in the country.
Even with a UHC program in place, Villafuerte said “inefficiencies are expected to still abound in delivering quality health service to Filipinos, especially for marginalized families unable to afford medical care.”
“Such inefficiencies will be corrected by setting up Malasakit centers across the country,” he said.
Villafuerte’s bill on the establishment of Malasakit Centers was a counterpart to Sen. Christopher Lawrence Go’s version in the Senate.