Malasakit Centers: Providing Hope and Saving Lives

Sen. Christopher 'Bong' Go at one of the Malasakit Centers. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
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Since the establishment of the first Malasakit Center in Cebu City in February 2018, the number of centers has grown to 159 nationwide. These centers, initiated by Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, aim to provide assistance to poor patients and streamline access to government healthcare services.

The Malasakit Centers have made a significant impact, having helped approximately 10 million patients. These centers serve as one-stop shops, making it easier for individuals in need to receive the care they require.

Sen. Go, the author of the “Malasakit Centers Act of 2019” which institutionalized the program, stated, “The Malasakit Centers continue to symbolize hope, embodying the true meaning of ‘malasakit’ — compassion and care for one another.” These centers have become the heart of inspiring stories, showcasing the profound transformations in the lives of individuals who have received assistance through this initiative.

One such story is that of Yazumi, a young patient from Caloocan City who underwent a liver transplant. Diagnosed with biliary atresia at just four months old, Yazumi’s family faced overwhelming hurdles. However, with the support of the Malasakit Center program, they received sustained assistance and support for Yazumi’s health and welfare, including her medications.

In Bohol, Roselyn Vente, a mother from Tagbilaran City, found support from the Malasakit Centers for her two-year-old daughter, Margaret Vente, who was diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect, a serious heart condition. The assistance provided by the centers proved to be crucial in their journey towards better health.

The story of the Cerillo twins, Divine and Mercy, from Vinzons, Camarines Norte, is another testament to the impact of the Malasakit Centers. Born conjoined at the chest, their survival seemed unlikely. However, with the assistance of Sen. Go and the collective programs provided by the centers, they were able to undergo a complex separation surgery at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila. The operation was successful, and Sen. Go later stood as the twins’ godfather.

Mohammad Abdelrashid Juhuri, a 29-year-old teacher from Maimbung, Sulu, faced the challenges of congenital heart disease. In 2017, he was diagnosed and had to undergo heart surgery. The financial burden of the necessary procedure added to his difficulties. However, his visit to the Malasakit Center at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City marked a turning point. The financial assistance provided him with hope for a better future.

Regiene Cayabyab and her son Brent Raven from Caloocan City experienced the lifeline that the Malasakit Centers represent for many Filipino families. Brent was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer. The assistance they received highlighted the critical role of the centers in providing financial aid and a sense of community and care.

In 2021, Ribby Ringo Jimenez, a resident of Naval in Biliran, received assistance from the Malasakit Center at the Philippine General Hospital. Ribby suffered from a rare skin condition and underwent a successful surgery with the support of the center. Further financial assistance was provided to ensure Ribby’s access to essentials and medicines.

Sen. Go expressed his pride in the impact of the Malasakit Centers, stating, “These stories of hope, resilience, and recovery reflect the essence of what we envisioned when we launched the Malasakit Centers. They stand as a testament to the Filipino spirit of bayanihan (communal spirit), demonstrating that through unity and compassion, we can overcome health challenges and build a stronger, healthier future for our nation.”

As the Malasakit Centers celebrate their sixth anniversary, the gratitude from those they have helped resonates deeply, illustrating the profound impact of this program. The centers continue to embody the true meaning of “malasakit” and serve as beacons of hope for individuals and families in need of healthcare assistance.

Source: The Manila Times

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