File photo of Malasakit Center in Culion Sanitarium and General Hospital.

Interior and local government Sec. Eduardo Año is pushing local government officials to promote the use of Malasakit Centers (MCs) to bring medical and health government services closer to the people, particularly now that the country is still fighting COVID-19.

He said it is important that the people know that their health and welfare remain to be the priority of the government.

“Kaya naman hinihikayat natin ang mga LGU na ipaalam sa mga tao kung paano makatutulong ang Malasakit Centers sa kanilang mga kababayan,” Año said.

The MCs are one-stop shops for medical and health assistance established in all Department of Health (DOH) Hospitals and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) through Republic Act (RA) No. 11463 or the Malasakit Center Act.

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As of October 30, 2021, Malasakit Centers had already been established throughout the country — Luzon-80, Mindanao-37, and the Visayas-29.

Año said that the Malasakit Centers provide ease for Filipinos in addressing their medical and health concerns, citing it is critical that LGUs and barangays take steps to educate the public about their presence and benefits.

“Sa panahon ngayon, napakahalaga na pangalagaan ang ating kalusugan. Sa tulong ng mga Malasakit Center, may karamay at kasangga ang mga mamamayan sa kanilang pangangailangang medikal at pangkalusugan,” he said.

Through DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2021-138, Año directed Punong Barangays (PBs), City and Municipal Mayors (C/MM), and Provincial Governors to advocate access to MCs and lead in various information campaigns in their localities.

He said that PBs are enjoined to organize advocacy activities to increase awareness in the community and to inform them on how they can take advantage of the health services offered by the government in MCs.

PBs are likewise directed to mobilize other barangay officials and functionaries in the conduct of the advocacy campaign; print MC information and advocacy materials and post and hang them on conspicuous places within the barangay; and, collaborate and seek necessary assistance from the City and Municipal government.

“Magsisimula ito sa ating mga pinuno sa mga barangay. We trust that they will take this opportunity para maiparating sa mga kabarangay nila ang mabuting dulot ng mga center na ito para sa ating mga kababayan,” Año said.

Meanwhile, the DILG Chief reminded mayors to provide assistance to their component barangays in carrying out the information drive in their respective jurisdictions. They may likewise post advocacy materials, Año said, and monitor barangay compliance in the DILG circular.

Provincial governments may also extend support to the barangays and their component cities and municipalities in executing their information campaigns.

MCs of LGUs
Meanwhile, the DILG Secretary said City and Municipal LGUs may establish their own MC “so long as it is in compliance with the standards and criteria set under Section 6 (f) of the Malasakit Center Act.”

The said Act states that LGUs can establish MC if it can guarantee the availability of funds for the operations of the MC; ensure the adoption of the integrated people-centered health services; and, comply with other requirements to be prescribed by the DOH regarding service capacity and capability, location, among others.

Apart from DOH, PGH, and LGUs, the DILG, Department of National Defense, Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police, and other public hospitals may also establish their own MCs.

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