By Rohanie Yahya
COTABATO CITY— More indigent patients in Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) will now be able to access the regional government’s hospital assistance program dubbed AMBaG or the ‘Ayudang Medikal mula sa Bangsamoro Government’ as an additional Php10 million fund was granted to the hospital.
BARMM Cabinet Secretary Mohd Asnin Pendatun, who also serves as AMBaG’s project manager, disclosed that they are regularly replenishing medical funds to the program’s partner hospitals.
“Just recently, we replenished funds in ZCMC as the initial fund (Php5 million) we transferred to them were already consumed. This time we transferred 10 million pesos,” Pendatun said.
Pendatun turned over the checks to ZCMC Chief Dr. Afdal Kunting on September 21.
“ZCMC is very strategic as it serves as referral hospitals for patients from Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and nearby provinces in Zamboanga,” he added.
In ZCMC alone, the program was able to help 588 patients coming from the Bangsamoro core territories and other areas.
To date, AMBAG has 28 partner hospitals within and outside the region’s territories, as the Bangsamoro Organic Law provides that the regional government shall also extend assistance to Bangsamoro communities outside the region.
As of August this year, the number of patients who benefitted from the program already reached 36,409. Out of this figure, 73% walked out of the hospital with zero balance after availing of AMBaG and other medical benefits of the government.
Pendatun said they simplified the process of availing the program and ensured that a desk officer is available at every partner hospital ready to assist patients.
Sadam Macao, a resident of Parang, Maguindanao shared how he easily availed of the program when his father was admitted to Iranun District Hospital.
“Dumating kami Sabado ng gabi sa hospital at nakalabas kami Lunes. Hindi po mahirap i-process yung AMBaG, napakadali,” Macao said.
As they strategized the implementation, Pendatun disclosed that the program’s marching order to desk officers is to ensure that patients will be discharged from the hospital as soon as they availed of AMBaG’s benefits.
“Ayaw natin na maging dahilan pa yung AMBaG na ma-delay yung paglabas ng pasyente,” he said.
To expand its services, AMBaG is eyeing to forge partnerships with all government hospitals within and outside the BARMM’s formal territories within this year.
“We’re still adding hospitals that are very strategic na labas na sa BARMM territory, and currently ang very soon na madadagdag sa roster of hospitals natin ay sa Palawan,” Pendatun shared. (With the story from Abdullah Matucan/BIO)