Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, chairperson of the Senate committee on health and demography, delivered a keynote address at the 23rd National Midyear Convention of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians (PAFP) at the SMX Convention Center in Davao City on Thursday, August 31.
The event provided a platform for Go to highlight priority health measures and discuss his efforts to promote the well-being of Filipinos through accessible and quality healthcare.
Go also commended the PAFP for their dedication to the health of Filipino families and acknowledged the critical role that family physicians play in ensuring the overall health and well-being of communities.
He likewise stressed the importance of collaboration between government, medical professionals, and stakeholders to achieve comprehensive and effective healthcare solutions for the Filipino people.
“Bago ko po malimutan, maraming, maraming salamat po sa inyong sakripisyo sa panahon ng pandemya. Kayo po ‘yung hero sa panahon ng pandemya. Palakpakan po natin ang ating mga doctors, family physicians. Hindi po natin mararating ito kung hindi po dahil sa inyo. Alam kong hirap na hirap po kayo sa panahon ng pandemya,” he highlighted.
“As we transition to a new normal, your role as family physicians is more crucial than ever. You are the first line of defense in our healthcare system, and today, we gather to discuss how we can make that system even stronger,” Go added.
Meanwhile, Go emphasized the need to pursue equitable access to healthcare services for all citizens through the proper implementation of the Universal Health Care Law, among others.
“It is a game-changer, expanding PhilHealth coverage and integrating public healthcare services from barangay health stations to specialty hospitals,” the senator cited.
The senator also maintained the significance of the continuing operations of Malasakit Centers, the establishment of more Super Health Centers, and the recent enactment of the Regional Specialty Centers Act which he principally sponsored and is one of the authors in the Senate.
Malasakit Centers serve as one-stop shops where particularly poor and indigent patients can conveniently access financial and medical assistance from various government agencies. Super Health Centers, on the other hand, offer comprehensive basic healthcare services to address a wide range of medical needs. Regional Specialty Centers aim to decentralize the delivery of specialized medical care to different regions of the country.
“First, the Malasakit Centers Act, which we principally authored and sponsored, is a milestone in our effort to make medical services accessible to all. Malasakit Centers bring together representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. These one-stop shops aim to support indigent patients in reducing their hospital costs to the least possible amount,” Go explained.
“Second na priority ko po bilang chairman ng Committee on Health, ito pong establishment of Super Health Center across the country, considering how they can significantly help reduce hospital occupancy rates while bringing government medical services closer to the grassroots. Super Health Centers are designed to focus on primary care, consultation, and early detection, further strengthening the healthcare sector in the country especially in rural communities. It will also offer free consultations and will help decongest the hospitals,” he continued.
“Alam n’yo po proud po akong ibalita sa inyo na nakakuha po ng 24-0 na boto sa Senado, even the opposition voted for it dahil alam po nila na makakatulong po ito sa mga kababayan natin. The law aims to bring specialized medical care closer to the grassroots by establishing specialty centers in existing regional hospitals,” Go said pertaining to the recently signed Republic Act No. 11959 or the Regional Specialty Centers Act.
Addressing the concerns of healthcare professionals, Go expressed his support for the proposed Salary Standardization Law 6 (SSL 6), building upon the success of the previous Salary Standardization Law 5 which he authored and co-sponsored in 2019.
The proposed salary increase aims to provide more competitive compensation to government workers, including healthcare professionals in the public sector. Go then emphasized that the dedication of these professionals deserves fair recognition, and he pledged to advocate for their welfare.
It can also be recalled that Go authored and co-sponsored RA 11712, which grants continuing benefits and allowances to public and private healthcare workers during public health emergencies like Covid-19.
Another significant law that Go mentioned is RA 11509, also known as the Doktor Para sa Bayan Act, which he co-authored and co-sponsored. The Doktor Para sa Bayan Act establishes a Medical Scholarship and Return Service program, which aims to provide scholarships to deserving students pursuing a medical degree. In return for the scholarship, the beneficiaries are required to render service in underserved areas of the country, helping to address the shortage of healthcare professionals in these areas.
In closing, Go reiterated his unwavering commitment to prioritize the health and well-being of all Filipinos. He encouraged the medical community to continue their invaluable work and assured them of his continuous support as they collectively strive to uplift the nation's healthcare standards. PR