South Cotabato taps NGO for cheaper meds

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/23 February) – The provincial government of South Cotabato has linked up with a local non-government organization to help provide cheaper medicine packages for various surgical and medical needs of poor residents in the area.

South Cotabato Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. said they forged an agreement with the Dole Philippines-funded Mahintana Foundation to allow the group to supply P1.7 million worth of surgical and medicine packages for the use of poor patients of the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in nearby Koronadal City.

“This is to ensure the availability of ready and cheaper medicine packs for the surgical and medical operations that would be availed by our poor patients,” he told reporters.

Under the program, Pingoy said Mahintana will provide medicine packages for surgeries and other hospital services involving beneficiaries of the indigency program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or PhilHealth.

He said the cost of the medicine packs would be charged directly by the hospital to PhilHealth and the patients would not be paying anything upon availing them.

Pingoy said the medicine packages would be supplied by Mahintana’s Health Plus Shop in a Shop (HPSIS) at the provincial hospital.

Mahintana is a provincial pharmaceutical franchisee of the Health Plus project, which was earlier implemented by the Department of Health to “promote wider access to quality, affordable and essential generic medicines and family planning commodities” in the country.

“With the medicine packs in place, our poor patients no longer need to purchase medicines outside the hospital and then wait for PhilHealth’s reimbursement that usually take 45 days to two months to process,” Pingoy said.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, South Cotabato health officer, said Mahintana initially offered medicine packs and kits for appendectomy, cesarean section or delivery and obstetrics surgeries.

“We’re targeting to cover 22 more medical and surgical cases within the next few months,” he said in a report from the South Cotabato Information Office.

Dr. Conrado Brana, provincial hospital chief, said the launching of the initiative addresses the insufficient supply of medicines available at the hospital.

“This is a perennial problem here and we’re hoping to resolve this through the initiative,” he said.

Pingoy said they consider the program as “very advantageous” to the provincial government as Mahintana committed to provide the hospital with significant rebates out of its income from it.

“Mahintana will pay back 70 percent of its net income to the hospital and we intend to utilize that for the repairs and upgrading of our facilities,” he added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)

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