Preparations are underway for the expansion of the Libreng Gamot sa Masa (LinGap sa Masa) program of President Rodrigo Duterte in six government-run hospitals in Western Visayas.

Assistant Regional Director for Administration Evangeline Felicio of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Western Visayas on said preparations are in progress after they received a memorandum from their central office, allowing them to expand the program to other provinces.

Western Visayas has been chosen as among the five pilot areas for the program. It was first implemented in partnership with the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) last March.

A PHP138-million fund was appropriated for the region.

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The proposed expansion will now cover Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital in Kalibo, Aklan; Roxas Memorial Provincial Hospital in Roxas City, Capiz; Angel Salazar Memorial General Hospital in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique; Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental; Iloilo Provincial Hospital in Pototan, Iloilo; and Dr. Catalino Gallego Nava Provincial Hospital in Jordan, Guimaras.

DSWD-Western Visayas regional director Rebecca Geamala met with the governors of the provinces and the respective chiefs of the six hospitals to discuss concerns regarding the expansion.

Geamala has requested the help of the local governments as her office lacks staff to oversee the program implementation in the provinces.

She said the PHP138 million budget is only intended for medicines and cannot be used to hire and pay additional workers for the expansion.

As of September, about PHP60 million of the budget has already been utilized, said Geamala.

Each province is allotted more than PHP11 million for free medicines once the expansion is realized, she added. (PNA)

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