Health services in South Cotabato province is expected to get a boost with the expansion this year of the national government’s Malasakit Center program.

South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said the Office of the President has asked the provincial government to provide an office space where they can put up the center.

Tamayo said he is planning to put up the Malasakit Center at the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital here.

A Malasakit Center is a one-stop-shop manned by personnel from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Philippine Amusement and Gaming (Pagcor).

Patients or their watchers needing medical assistance need not go to the offices of the said agencies because they are available at the Malasakit Center.

As in the other established facilities, Tamayo said the national government will allocate an initial P5 million for its operation and grants for the hospital expenses and other needs of poor patients in the province.

The governor said he has already requested authority from the Provincial Board to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Office of the President, which funds the program.

“The Malasakit Center is a big help to the people of South Cotabato & I hope that this will be approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as soon as possible,” an optimistic Tamayo said.

He said the center will mainly cater to patients of the provincial hospital who come from parts of the province and neighboring areas, including Maguindanao.

“Patients of private hospitals accredited by Philhealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.) may also seek assistance from the Malasakit Center,” Tamayo said.

The Malasakit Center program was the brainchild of former Special Assistant to President Rodrigo R. Duterte and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go to hasten the delivery of medical services to indigent patients.

In Region 12 (Soccsksargen), the program has existing facilities at the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital in Isulan town and the Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital in General Santos City. (PNA)