What started out as a Lingap para sa Mahirap, a free hospitalization and medicines program of Davao City Government for the poor at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), which has enabled zero billing for many poor patients, is now a nationwide program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The DSWD signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the SPMC in Davao City and Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City on Friday, March 2, for the implementation of Lingap sa Masa program.

In the 66th anniversary celebration of the DSWD Field Office (FO) at Grand Men Seng Hotel, DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo together with SPMC chief Dr. Leopoldo Vega, and DRMC chief Dr. Bryan Dalid inked the MOA, which provides the details of the partnership and agreement between the DSWD and the two state-run hospitals.

Secretary Taguiwalo said in her remark that President Rodrigo Duterte has allocated P1 billion for medicine assistance to indigent patients to be sourced from the socio-civic projects fund of the Office of the President Under the Libreng Gamot Para sa Masa or Lingap sa Masa program.

The program will provide assistance through the issuance of guarantee letters for the purchase of medicines from hospital pharmacies or from partner drug stores, wherein the DSWD will be the lead agency that will manage and implement it and ensure that the program is properly distributed to indigent citizens.

“Nag set-aside si President ng pera dahil alam niya ang problema ng mga may sakit lalo na yong mahihirap na walang pambili ng gamot (The President has set aside money because he knew the problems of those who are sick especially who can’t afford to buy medicine),” Taguiwalo said.

SPMC and DRMC are two of the six public hospitals in the country that were chosen to benefit from the program. Of the P1 billion budget, P150-million were given to the two hospitals.

Each citizen has a limit up to P75,000 only. The other hospitals are in Manila, Pampanga, Cebu, and Iloilo.

The program will be assessed after three months to determine the lapses and possible improvement.

DSWD-Davao Regional Director Mercedita Jabagat, for her part, said that they have already started to implement the program last March 1 and have already assigned social workers to assist the citizens.

The program will only cover medicine and aside from that, such as the laboratory fee, professional fee and for operation will no longer be shouldered by Lingap sa Masa.

Jabagat also mentioned that they are eying to have a contact with other pharmacies near the vicinity of the two hospitals to be one of their partners in the implementation. (Sun Star)