Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said that poor patients can as of now benefit of free medicines regardless of the possibility that the P1 billion help guaranteed by President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to be given to the Social Welfare office.
The P1 billion has not been downloaded to the department but we have already started it (giving of free medicine). If there is a valid prescription and an indigent needs it, the department will find a way to give it," Taguiwalo said.
We know that issues about medicines spell out life and death, especially among our poor," she added.
The DSWD has consented to arrangements with a few hospitals where the referral slips and guarantee letters from the legislature will be regarded.
She said the government will not give cash, but only letters so that the drug stores will give them free medicines.
Meanwhile, these are the hospitals that have signed the agreement with the DSWD: University of the Philippines, Philippine General Hospital, Jose B. Lingad General Hospital in Pampanga, Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu, Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao, and Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum.
There will be guidelines and safeguards to ensure that prescriptions are valid but at the same time, we do not want to make it hard for patients. We will coordinate with hospitals to help those in the charity ward who cannot buy medicines," Taguiwalo said.
Hopefully, we can implement it by the start of next year, she added.
According to Taguiwalo, she said it is faster to approve if the medications would cost P5,000 or below.
Immediately ho kapag P5,000 ang worth ng reseta or below kaya ho namin ma-process iyan kaagad," Taguiwalo said.
The government can also pay for medicines that cost as much as P25,000 but this would have to be subject to approval by the field office.
Maximum allowable assistance that a social worker or the authorized personnel may recommend is only up to 25,000 pesos.
However in extremely justifiable cases, the amount of assistance beyond P25,000 but not to exceed P75,000 may be granted subject to the approval of the assistant secretary for protective programs for DSWD central office or regional director for DSWD field office," Taguiwalo said.
Also, it is said that the free medicines can be availed of every three months.
Our problem is how to deal with those that require dialysis or chemotherapy. We will have to address that," Taguiwalo said.
There will be guidelines and safeguards to ensure that prescriptions are valid but at the same time, we do not want to make it hard for patients. We will coordinate with hospitals to help those in the charity ward who cannot buy medicines, she added.
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