In just two months since the start of 2018, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) has already conducted nine medical and dental missions, benefiting 2,425 patients.
For January alone, PCSO conducted medical and dental missions at the Sto. Nino Parish, Armel 1 Subdivision in Sto. Nino, San Mateo, Rizal, with 297 beneficiaries and Belvedere Basketball Court, Merville Park, Parañaque City, with 218 beneficiaries.
It also conducted missions in Mountain View Subdivision, Barangay Muzon San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, with 195 beneficiaries; Barangay Aguho, Pateros, Manila, with 288 beneficiaries; and Barangay Pantubig, St. Paul College, San Rafael Bulacan, with 252 beneficiaries.
For February, PCSO conducted four medical and dental missions at Barangay Bagumbayan covered court, Pilillia, Rizal with 231 beneficiaries; Marcos Alvarez Avenue, Golden Acres Annex School, Talon Uno, Las Piñas City, with 278 beneficiaries; and Barangay Isla, Pangil, Laguna, with 383 beneficiaries.
The latest mission was conducted at the People’s Power Monument, White Plains Avenue, Quezon City, with 283 beneficiaries, in line with the 32nd Anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution.
This shows that no detractors or controversies can stop Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) from doing its mission and acts of charity.
Medical missions as direct services
While the PCSO Charter, or Republic Act (RA) No. 1169, is mandated “to provide and raise funds for health programs, medical assistance and services, and charities of national character,” the agency is also guided by the principle of charity from its name alone when conducting medical and dental missions.
PCSO generates funds from Lotto, Keno, Small Town Lottery (STL), and Sweepstakes. It relies on the betting public to raise the revenues by playing more lottery games, especially STL.
In 2017, STL made history by generating P15.7 billion revenue (P1.3 billion per month) from mere P4.7 billion in just one year. The figures assert that PCSO is slowly eradicating the illegal numbers game because the betting public believes that STL is more transparent and their chances of winning are higher.
“That is why we are protecting the interest of the betting public. If we lose their trust, we will lose our business. They are the source of our revenue. We don’t get [our budget]from people’s taxes but thru gaming only,” said PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan.
The January sales of the expanded STL posted P1.87 billion, a 103.96 percent increase from the sales of the same month last year.
“Our STL continues to raise more funds for President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s program of free medicines and financial assistance to medical patients in the country amid the vilification campaign being waged in the media by vested-interest individuals to destroy the lottery game in particular and PCSO in general,” Balutan said.
Medical missions are one way of promoting PCSO’s lottery products that the public continues patronizing them to increase its revenues.
“Medical missions are beyond the mandate of PCSO if you look at it. On the part of the medical services department, it [medical mission]is actually a direct service,” Assistant General Manager for Charity Sector Larry Cedro explained.
“There is this charity and ‘marketing’ in a sense because we promote the product. We introduce to the public that this is PCSO, this is what we do. Aside from letting them know what we can do, we maximize our presence by encouraging the public to continue to patronize our products,” he added.
“There’s this marketing side of it: In order for us to serve more, funds are needed by PCSO.”
Cedro, however, clarified that the medical missions purely provide medical services and free medicines only. They do not bring services under the Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP).
While patients are entertained as they come, host barangay or organization usually conducts pre-screening of patients to make sure the amount of medicines and time can accommodate all patients.
And if there are cases that will merit immediate attention, patients are sent to the nearest hospital.
“Remember we do this for the purpose of primary healthcare management. We expect that the barangay health center, including the personnel there, provides them enough services,” he explained.
How PCSO conducts medical missions
Cedro explained that while they are required to conduct at least three medical missions in a month, he still relies heavily on the requests that are being forwarded to his department.
“We acknowledge and attend to requests as they come, but if they exceed the maximum requirement, patients have to be rescheduled for the following month,” he said.
Not all requests are being granted though. Cedro said distance is the number one consideration when conducting medical missions. They have to be conducted in Metro Manila and nearby provinces only.
“Proximity and transportation are issues. Yes, we have shuttle services and ambulances, but still we have to consider the distance because we hold the mission from 8 a.m. to 12 noon only,” he said.
Cedro also clarified that there should also be a six-month gap for requests by same organizations, barangays, or companies. They cannot conduct medical missions for them on a monthly basis.
“We aim to provide equitable, efficient, and effective health care services through medical and dental missions,” he said, adding “the program provides outreach health care activities in depressed communities who have less or no access to health services offered by the local government.”
Depending on the location, medical and dental missions are conducted only for a day, but if it’s in the far North, the medical team usually stays for a few days.
“We wanted to make sure that we maximize our presence there. When we went to Cagayan [Valley] last year, we held the mission for three days then we returned [to Manila],” he said.
“We factored in the distance, personnel complement [the number of people we send], and the number of target beneficiaries based on the data being provided to us by the requesting party,” he added.
Based on statistics, PCSO can accommodate 600 to 800 patients in one medical mission a day. These patients avail of free medical consultation, medicines, basic laboratory services, blood examination, Electrocardiography (ECG) tests, and other services.
Types and scope of assistance provided by PCSO during a medical/dental mission include medical consultation and treatment, medicines for primary health care, basic laboratory services, blood examination, Electrocardiography (ECG) tests, dental consultation and treatment, including tooth extraction, and preventive dental health education.
Depending on the number of dentists around, tooth extractions are being conducted for a maximum of 100 patients.
Meanwhile, if one wants to partner with PCSO for a medical/dental mission, the interested parties must accomplish the following: Letter of request – addressed to the PCSO Chairman/General Manager; Provide manpower to assist in the medical and dental mission; Consumption reports from previous request (if any); and Project proposal with the following items: a) Project rationale and b) Project objectives.
Charity for all
The PCSO Charter, particularly on revenue allocation, provides that the revenue of the PCSO shall be allocated to 55 percent for Prize Fund (payment of prizes), 30 percent for Charity Fund (various charity programs and services) and 15 percent as Operating Fund (maintenance and operating expenses).
An important part of the Charity Assistance Department is the Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP), which attends to the financial needs of individuals with health-related problems through the provision of financial assistance.
PCSO issues a guarantee letter to the hospital or partner health facility which assumes the obligation of a specific amount due from the client for the services rendered.
The agency also has Institutional Partnership (IP) Program, Medicines and Medical Supplies Donation Program, Medical Equipment for Hospitals and Other Health Institutions, Calamity Assistance Program, AFP/PNP Health Facilities’ Capability Building Project.
It also has Capability Enhancement Assistance – PCSO Primary Health Care Capability Building Project, Milk Feeding Program (MFP), Construction of Health Facilities, PCSO ASAP Program, and PCSO Enrolment System for Hemo and Peritoneal Dialysis Patients.
Under the Medical Services Department, the agency has an Out-Patient Services Program, which provides comprehensive health services for free and Auxiliary Ambulance Service, a free ambulance service to patients who need to be transported to the hospital.
The Medical And Dental Mission, an outreach health care activities in the depressed community within and outside of Metro Manila and nearby provinces, includes provision of free medicines for those who have less or no access to health services offered by the local government. Meanwhile, the Medicine Donation Program (in-kind) provides augmentation of the needed medicines in kind to qualified government and non-government agencies enabling them to conduct efficient and effective health care services.
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY PCSO-CORPORATE PLANNING DEPARTMENT