Social welfare dept to implement Medicine Assistance Program funded by Pres. Duterte’s Social Fund

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has issued a memo to mobilize its field offices in Central Luzon, Western and Central Visayas, Davao, and the National Capital Region (NCR) to provide medicine assistance to indigent patients.

Social Welfare Judy Taguiwalo issued Memorandum Circular No. 16 following President Rodrigo Duterte's pronouncement that he will allocate PHP1 billion to the DSWD for medical assistance for the poor.

"President Duterte, very much aware of the high costs of medicines and the numerous indigent patients who cannot afford to buy prescription drugs, allocated PHP1 billion to the President's Social Fund to enable these patients to access badly needed medicines," Taguiwalo said, adding that the President instructed the DSWD to formulate and implement the guidelines of the program.

Noting that the Department of Health also has a Medical Assistance Program (MAP) that aids indigents seeking free consultations, rehabilitation and examinations or those confined in hospitals, the social welfare chief said the DSWD's medical assistance will be under its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis (AICS).

The AICS will extend assistance to families or individuals who are indigent, vulnerable, disadvantaged or those in the informal sector and poor, based on the DSWD Listahanan; government employees and contract of services workers; and those who are facing crisis situations as determined by DSWD social workers, so they could secure prescription medicines.

Taguiwalo however said that the program does not cover prescription medicine for drug dependents undergoing treatment or rehabilitation. "A separate program is being created for them," she said.

The DSWD's Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) will facilitate the release of the medical assistance. The CIU is a special unit of the DSWD that serves as an action center that immediately responds to the needs of individuals and families in crisis situations. The CIU is located at the central office, field offices and satellite offices in the provinces.

"The DSWD has yet to receive the PHP1 billion from Malacanang, but we are willing to foot the bill in the meantime so Filipinos who need immediate prescription medicines can access them ASAP," the social welfare chief said. "As soon as the fund is available, the DSWD will oversee and manage it and the program. Five percent of the fund will be used for project management."

She also clarified that beneficiaries will not receive any cash, but referral letters from the DSWD which beneficiaries will take to DSWD partner drugstores and hospital pharmacies. Those who need medicine should bring and submit to the closest CIU the needed original or certified true copy documents, and/or photocopy documents certified by a CIU social worker: the clinical abstract/medical certificate with full name, signature and license number of the attending physician (issued not later than three months); the doctor's prescription with date and the name of the patient (the prescription should be signed by the attending physician with license number indicated); barangay certificate of indigence or Indigent Card issued by the medical social service of the hospital; and any valid ID of the client.

"If the prescription costs PHP5,000 or less, confirmation by the doctor or his/her duly certified representative of the veracity of the prescription is sufficient for the DSWD to provide the assistance," Taguiwalo said.

However, a social case study report prepared by the local government unit's social worker/medical social worker, or a social case summary prepared by a registered social worker may be required by the CIU social worker to support assessment and recommendation of assistance.

"A social case study report is needed as a supporting document for assistance more than PHP5,000," she said. "A client can avail of the assistance only once within three months."

Taguiwalo also explained that the DSWD can establish partnerships with service providers to ensure that clients are efficiently and effectively assisted immediately.

The DSWD can forge contracts or enter into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with qualified service providers.

"As a safeguard, in no case will the implementation of the program be delegated and/or transferred to any kind of civil society organization, regardless of whether it is a non-governmental organization or a people's organization," she said.

Taguiwalo said that initially, the DSWD will enter into a MOA with the University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital in Manila; the Jose B. Lingad General Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga; Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in Iloilo; Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City; and the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City and the Davao Regional Hospital (DRH) in Tagum City.

The hospitals were chosen in the regions with the highest poverty levels and to ensure the representation of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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