Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, expressed his support for the Department of Health’s (DOH) plan to build 28 Bagong Urgent Care and Ambulatory Services (BUCAS) nationwide by 2028. This, he said, aligns with his advocacy to help improve healthcare in communities and bring government services closer to the people.
BUCAS is a primary health hub offering services similar to those offered by Super Health Centers that Go has been advocating for. These facilities will offer outpatient consultations, laboratory tests, minor surgeries, and emergency care. However, unlike Super Health Centers, which are run by local government units, BUCAS will be operated by the DOH and act as extensions of DOH hospitals.
“I commend the DOH led by Sec. Ted Herbosa for this initiative to improve our health care system and provide more accessible and affordable health services to our fellow Filipinos. BUCAS will reduce the burden on our hospitals and ensure that no one is left behind in our quest for universal health care,” Go said.
Go added that BUCAS may partner with state universities and colleges (SUCs) for personnel and training, creating more opportunities for health workers and students.
“BUCAS can also serve as venues for our health professionals and students to hone their skills and gain experience. This will also address the shortage of health workers in the country and encourage more Filipinos to pursue careers in the health sector,” Go said.
Meanwhile, Go highlighted the synergy between BUCAS and his other health priorities such as the continuing operations of Malasakit Centers, establishment of more Super Health Centers, and the enactment of the Regional Specialty Centers Act in bridging the gap between government health services and Filipinos in need particularly poor and indigent patients.
Malasakit Centers bring together representatives from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the DOH, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to support impoverished patients in covering hospital costs to reduce out of pocket expenses to the least possible amount.
Go is the principal author and sponsor of Republic Act No. 11463, or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, which institutionalized the Malasakit Centers program. Currently, 159 Malasakit Centers are operational nationwide, poised to assist with patients’ medical expenses. The DOH reports that the Malasakit Center program has already provided aid to around ten million Filipinos.
On the other hand, Super Health Centers are designed to focus on primary care, consultation, and early detection, further strengthening the healthcare sector in the country, especially in grassroots communities. Free consultations would be handled by municipal health offices, local government units, and PhilHealth through its Konsulta program.
Through the collective efforts of the DOH, local government units, and fellow lawmakers, sufficient funds have been allocated under the DOH for the construction of over 700 Super Health Centers nationwide.
Go also principally sponsored and is one of the authors of the Republic Act No. 11959, also known as the Regional Specialty Centers Act. The law mandates the establishment of regional specialty centers within existing DOH regional hospitals.
“By integrating BUCAS with the services provided by Malasakit Centers, Super Health Centers, and Regional Specialty Centers, we are creating a more cohesive and efficient healthcare system nationwide. We aim to reduce the bureaucratic hurdles for Filipinos seeking medical help and ensure that healthcare is a seamless, stress-free experience for everyone,” Go said.
In confronting the ongoing challenges and crises in the country, Go assured that his efforts, fueled by deep compassion for fellow citizens, especially the poor and needy, will persist.
“Sa gitna ng mga hamon at krisis na ating kinakaharap, hindi po tayo nagpapabaya. Patuloy po tayong nagtatrabaho at nagmamalasakit sa ating mga kababayan, lalo na sa mga mahihirap at nangangailangan. Hindi po tayo titigil hanggang makabangon at makabawi ang ating bansa mula sa mga pagsubok na pinagdaraanan nito,” Go concluded.