After more than a year of implementing it, the Department of Social Welfare and Development issued amended guidelines on its P1 billion free medicine program to expand the coverage of medical services it can provide, increase the number of qualified beneficiaries, and expand its partnerships with hospitals.
The program has been renamed as “Lingap at Gabay Para sa May Sakit (LinGaP sa Masa).
With the amended guidelines, medical needs like prosthetics, assistive devices, laboratory procedures are now included among the assistance which can be provided through the program.
Likewise, the services of LinGaP sa Masa can now be accessed by family members of contract of service workers and regular government workers.
The new policy also allows the Department to include other district/provincial/regional government hospitals to partner with DSWD for the implementation of the program.
DSWD Assistant Secretary Aleli B. Bawagan said the amendments were made to make this important program initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte more accessible to clients in need.
“During the implementation phase, the Department noted that the original guidelines limited the assistance to free medicines. We immediately saw that many indigent patients needed not only medicines, but also assistive devices. This is particularly true in the case of persons with disabilities (PWDs). Many impoverished Filipinos also need funds for laboratory costs which are often out of their financial reach or outright exorbitant,” Asec. Bawagan explained.
She added that laboratory procedures are also now included in the guidelines and poor families can access funds for them through LinGap sa Masa. With the amendments, the DSWD expects that more Filipinos will be able to access the program and benefit from it.
As of September 29, a total of 27,735 indigent clients have benefitted from the LinGaP; the amount utilized is P256,429,055.72 which is 25.64% of the total available funds.
These figures are based on the reports of fund utilization from the original partner government hospitals such as the Philippine General Hospital for NCR; Jose B. Lingad Memorial Hospital in San Fernando City, Pampanga for Central Luzon; Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City for Western Visayas; Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City for Central Visayas; and, Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City and Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City, both for the Davao Region.
DSWD expects a higher turn-out of patients in the coming months as the Department signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the program implementation with five more public hospitals in Metro Manila, to wit: Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital; East Avenue Medical Center; Lung Center of the Philippines; Philippine Children’s Hospital; and, San Lazaro Hospital.
Asec. Bawagan added, “We encourage Filipinos in immediate need of medical assistance in National Capital Region, Regions III, VI, VII, and XI to access LinGaP and we hope it will be of help to them and their families. We reiterate that this program does not require the endorsement of local government officials, even as we also acknowledge letters of the same. This is a program that is open to all Filipinos in need, especially those who come from the poor and marginalized sectors,” she said.
How to access the program
Qualified to avail of the program are the following: 1] Families or individuals who are indigent, vulnerable or disadvantaged; 2] Those in the informal sector and poor based on DSWD Listahanan; 3] Those who are in crisis situation based on assessment of social workers; 4] Employees and contract of service workers of government in crisis situation; and 5] Dependents of soldiers and police officers killed or wounded in line of duty.
Those who want to benefit from the program must bring: 1] Any valid ID of the patient; 2] Any valid ID of representative and written authorization signed by the patient in favor of the representative; 3] Doctor’s prescription issued within the last three months, indicating date and name of patient, duly signed by attending physician, with his or her license number and contact details; 4] Proof of Indigency or Certificate issued by the barangay or medical social service of an identified hospital.
Beneficiaries may approach medical social workers assigned in the participating hospitals for further assistance in availing the services. #