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BARMM government expresses concerns to individuals in crisis through B-CARES

BARMM's Ministry of Social Services and Development Minister Atty. Raissa Jajurie hands over some medical supplies to the beneficiary of B-CARES Program Bai Nohraine Andong whose medical prescriptions were covered under the program. (PHOTO: Ministry of Social Services and Development-BARMM)

COTABATO CITY (PIA) -- True to its commitment that no Bangsamoro people shall be left behind, the government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is continuously doing its best to never run out of programs and projects to be of service to every Bangsamoro, especially individuals who are in crisis situations.

The Bangsamoro government, through the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD-BARMM), has now strengthened the implementation of the Bangsamoro Critical Assistance for Indigents in Response to Emergency Situations, or B-CARES Program, to serve more families and individuals in need.

"The program covers the indigent patients’ hospitalization expenses, the cost of medicines, and other medical treatments or procedures," said MSSD Minister Atty. Raissa Jajurie.

She added that the scope of the program includes "the payment of laboratory fees, dialysis, chemotherapy, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and anti-retroviral therapy."

A record from the MSSD noted that over 6,000 indigent individuals and families have already availed themselves of medical assistance, including hospitalization expenses, medicines, laboratory costs, and other treatments or procedures, since the implementation of the B-CARES program in 2019.

MSSD-BARMM signs a memorandum of agreement with four hospitals in Special Geographic Areas in the region for the implementation of the B-CARES Program. Through this initiative, indigent patients may avail of BARMM's health assistance through the MSSD’s partner hospitals. ([PHOTO: Ministry of Social Services and Development-BARMM)

To facilitate a timely and immediate response to the various medical needs of indigents, the MSSD also entered into contractual agreements with 13 hospitals and nine pharmacies across the Bangsamoro Region.

Minister Jajurie pointed out the importance of a pro-active response and being prepared with basic information on indigent patients so that government assistance will come in handy, saying the health needs of each individual may vary in degree.

That is why, she said, the Bangsamoro government, through the MSSD, has a standing partnership with hospitals and pharmacies all over the region to preposition the different assistance that is lodged under the B-CARES program.

Bai Nohraine Andong, a beneficiary of the B-CARES Program.

Bai Nohraine Andong, a resident of SPDA, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte, who was one of the first beneficiaries, described the program as "very helpful." Her medical prescriptions were covered by MSSD under the B-CARES program through a partnership with a pharmacy in Cotabato City.

"Ito po ay malaking tulong sa mga taong nangangailangan tulad po namin na kulang po ang pambili ng gamot. Sana po ay tuloy-tuloy na po ang ganitong assistance," said Andong.

(This program is a big help for people like us who do not have enough money to buy medicines. I hope that this kind of assistance will continue.)

The 2021 Poverty Incidence Report of the Philippine Statistics Authority in BARMM indicated that 29.9% of families in the region were poor, a huge decline from the 52.6% in 2018. 

An MSSD-BARMM's B-CARES program staff (right) briefs a beneficary regarding hospital expenses to be covered under B-CARES. (Photo: MSSD-BARMM)

Minister Jajurie vowed to expand MSSD's partnership with other health facilities and pharmacies to be able to cater to a large number of Bangsamoro people, acknowledging that one of the more common crises that poor families face are the unexpected costs related to illnesses, whether in the form of medicines, hospitalization, laboratory procedures, and the like.

The MSSD also explained the process of taking advantage of the B-CARES hospitalization assistance. It said that as requirements, the client or informant should present the final hospital bill, barangay certificate of indigency, statement of account, promissory note (if the patient has been discharged), medical certificate, whole body picture of the patient, and valid identification cards of the client or informant and of the patient to be submitted and assessed by either the attending MSSD social worker in the regional or provincial office or the medical social worker assigned at the partner hospital. (LTB – PIA Cotabato City)

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