MANILA, Philippines – Poor Filipinos can now turn to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in order to get prescription medicine for free.
The DSWD announced on Tuesday, January 3, that it has started to provide medical assistance through its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS program with funding from the Office of the President.
“President Duterte, very much aware of the high costs of medicines and the numerous indigent patients who cannot afford to buy prescription drugs, allocated P1 billion from the President’s Social Fund to enable these patients to access badly-needed medicines,” Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said.
Kickstarting the program is Memorandum Circular No. 16, released by Taguiwalo. It supports the Department of Health’s (DOH) ongoing free medicine program for indigents called Medical Assistance Program (MAP).
The circular particulalry “mobilizes DSWD Field Offices III, VI, VII, XI and the National Capital Region (NCR) to provide medicine assistance to indigent patients/clients, pending Malacañang’s fund transfer.”
The P1 billion is yet to be transferred to the DSWD but the department says it it willing to “foot the bill in the meantime.” Five percent of the funds, said Taguiwalo, will be used for project management.
How it works
Those assisted by the program will not get cash to pay for medicines but referral letters from the DSWD which they will have to bring to DSWD partner-drugstores and hospital pharmacies.
Aside from indigents, those who may avail of the program include government employees and contract of services workers, and those who are facing crisis situations “as determined by DSWD social workers.”
Beneficiaries should first submit requirements to the nearest DSWD Crisis Intervention Unit (CIU) located at the Central Office, field offices, and satellite offices in the provinces.
The following requirements must be submitted:
- Clinical abstract/medical certificate with full name, signature and license number of the attending physician (issued not later than 3 months)
- 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 indigency or Indigent Card issued by the medical social service of the hospital
- Any valid ID of the client
Beneficiaries will have an easier time getting their prescription medicines if they cost P5,000 or less. In this case, the DSWD only requires the confirmation by the doctor or their duly certified representative to verify the prescription.
For medicine assistance worth more than P5,000, a social case study report prepared by the local government social worker or medical social worker may be required.
“A social case study report is needed as a supporting document for assistance more than P5,000. A client can avail of the assistance only once within 3 months,” said Taguiwalo.
To improve and speed up assistance to beneficiaries, the DSWD is also eyeing partnerships with qualified service providers.
For now, the DSWD is set to enter into Memoranda of Agreement with the hospitals listed below, chosen because they are in areas with high poverty levels:
- University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital in Manila, NCR
- Jose B. Lingad General Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga, Region III
- Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in Iloilo, Region VI
- Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City, Region VII
- Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City, Region XI
- Davao Regional Hospital (DRH) in Tagum City, Region XI