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Senator Bong Go Champions Healthcare Initiatives in Mindanao

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, reiterated his dedication to the well-being of Filipinos and the improvement of the country's healthcare sector during the 17th Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Board of Directors Meeting. The meeting took place at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang, Davao City, on Friday, February 16.

As an ex-officio member of the board representing the Senate, Go emphasized his people-centered approach to healthcare. He advocated for the continued operation of Malasakit Centers, the expansion of regional specialty centers, the establishment of additional super health centers, and the enhancement of other healthcare facilities, particularly in underserved areas in Mindanao.

Republic Act (RA) 11463, or the "Malasakit Centers Act," which Go primarily authored and sponsored, aims to assist indigent patients in reducing hospital costs. There are currently 159 Malasakit Centers nationwide, with 40 located in Mindanao. According to the Department of Health (DoH), approximately 10 million Filipinos have benefited from the program.

Go highlighted the presence of Malasakit Centers in various locations in Mindanao, including Jolo, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Maguindanao, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Surigao, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Sarangani, General Santos, and Zamboanga City.

Through the collaborative efforts of the DoH, led by Secretary Teodoro Herbosa, local government units, and fellow lawmakers, sufficient funds have been allocated for the construction of over 700 super health centers nationwide. Of these, 224 are set to be constructed at strategic locations in Mindanao. The initiative aims to decongest hospitals and make primary healthcare accessible to underprivileged Filipinos.

Furthermore, Go discussed the establishment of regional specialty centers, which will provide specialized medical services in all regions, ensuring that Mindanaoans have access to high-level medical care closer to home. Go is the principal sponsor and one of the authors of RA 11959, or the "Regional Specialty Centers Act," which mandates the establishment of regional specialty centers within existing DoH regional hospitals.

In Mindanao, hospitals such as Zamboanga City Medical Center, Northern Mindanao Medical Center, Mayor Hilarion Ramiro Sr. Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, Davao Regional Medical Center, Cotabato Regional and Medical Center, Caraga Regional Hospital, Adela Serra Ty Memorial Medical Center, and Amai Pakpak Medical Center will have specialty centers to address various specialized health concerns.

Go also successfully sponsored the passage of 69 laws for the upgrade and establishment of public hospitals nationwide. Additionally, he supported various health infrastructure and equipment for hospitals in Mindanao.

As vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Go advocated for several projects in Mindanao, including the procurement of ambulances for local government units and medical equipment for various hospitals. He also supported the construction of a 300-bed capacity infectious diseases building for SPMC in Davao City.

During the MinDA meeting, Gisela Concepcion, a governing board member of the National Research Council of the Philippines, expressed gratitude toward Senator Go for his contributions, particularly the Malasakit Centers programs and his efforts in addressing infectious diseases and mental health.

Senator Go recently attended the inauguration of Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory I at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City on Thursday, February 15. He emphasized the critical need for such facilities outside of Manila, particularly in Mindanao, reducing the need for patients to travel to Manila for treatment.

He also thanked his colleagues in the Senate for their collaborative efforts in securing funding for the laboratory.

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