Government's Libreng Gamot Para sa Masa (LINGAP) programme or the Free Medicines for the Masses, has added five more hospitals in Metro Manila to serve indigent patients starting August 1.

The five additional hospitals include the Lung Center of the Philippines, East Avenue Medical Center and Philippine Children's Hospital in Quezon City and the Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital and San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

This now brings the total number of partner hospitals for the programme to 11.

The six pioneer hospitals that participated in the programme in five regions from northern to southern Philippines include the University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital (UP-Pgh), Jose B. Lingad Memorial Hospital in Pampanga, Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu, Southern Medical Center in Davao, and the Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum.

LINGAP is a project managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and aims to provide indigent patients with free medication. Many poor Filipinos are unable to manage their health conditions due to lack of funds to purchase medicines. President Rodrigo Duterte, upon assumption to office, vowed to address this problem to improve healthcare service delivery in the country.

Aside from indigent patients being treated in the identified hospitals, other beneficiaries of the programme include regular and non-regular government employees, and beneficiaries of soldiers and policemen killed or wounded in the line of duty.

The programme has received a funding of Php 1billion. The DWSD, however, clarified that beneficiaries will not receive cash but will be issued a "guarantee letter" to avail of medicines. Each patient is entitled to Php75,000 annually.

LINGAP, though, does not cover laboratory fees, professional fees and surgical procedure charges. 

Patients need to prevent a valid ID, a doctor's prescription issued within the last three months that bear's the physician's signature, license number and contact number, plus a Certificate of Indigency issued by the barangay (village office), according to the Manila Bulletin. 

They are entitled to get medicines every month, as determined by their social worker or depending on the urgency of their health needs.

Finally, DSWD has stationed Help Desks in the identified health centres where patients will be assessed and qualified beneficiaries will be issued with a guarantee letter.

The Protective Services Bureau under the DSWD will be lead implementor of the LINGAP programme. MIMS

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