Go to DoH: Boost info drive on health programs
BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO
The Manila Times
SEN. Christopher “Bong” Go urged the Department of Health (DoH) to tap technology or social media in intensifying its information campaign about the government’s health programs. The senator made the suggestion following a recent survey which showed that most Filipinos are unaware of the various government health programs. “We need to be where the people are,” the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography said, as he also raised the need to bring medical services closer to Filipinos. “Let us use technology and make the information about our health programs available to all,” he said. The survey, conducted by Capstone-Intel Corp., showed that while 83 percent of the 1,205 respondents were aware of DoH’s functions, only 50 percent knew of the government’s HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome) programs. The same survey revealed that the awareness levels for other programs like Universal Health Care, National Tuberculosis Control and mental health were even lower, ranging from 28 percent to 45 percent. Go urged the DoH to take these findings seriously. “The lack of awareness is a reflection of lives that could be at risk. We need to step up our information campaigns, especially in far-flung areas.” He also asked the department to collaborate with local government units in its information drive since local leaders could reach “even the most remote areas.” “They are our partners in making sure that every Filipino is aware of the health services available to them,” Go said. He cited his efforts to bring services closer to the people through the Malasakit Centers, super health centers (SHCs), and regional specialty centers. Malasakit Centers are “one-stop shops” aimed to support impoverished patients in reducing their hospital bills. Go is the principal author and sponsor of Republic Act (RA) 11463 or the “Malasakit Centers Act of 2019,” which institutionalized the Malasakit Centers program. To date, 159 operational centers have helped more than seven million Filipinos nationwide, the DoH said. The senator reiterated his commitment to support the establishment of more SHCs nationwide since they can help reduce hospital occupancy rates while bringing government medical services closer to the grassroots. Services offered in SHCs include database management, outpatient, birthing, isolation, diagnostic (laboratory, X-ray and ultrasound), pharmacy, and ambulatory surgical unit. They also offer eye, ear, nose, and throat service; oncology; physical therapy and rehabilitation. Go also sponsored and was one of the authors of RA 11959, also known as the “Regional Specialty Centers Act,” which was signed into law by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last August 24. The law mandates the establishment of regional specialty centers within existing DoH regional hospitals. Go said that the ultimate goal is to bring vital information and actual services closer to the Filipino people. “We have to bridge the gap. Let’s make health care not just something people hear about but something they can actually experience and benefit from,” he said.