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DOH extends validity on free medical services for GAB-licensed boxers and MMA fighters

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ANOTHER bit of good news for boxers, muay thai and mixed martial arts fighters.

The Department of Health (DOH) recently approved the request of the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) on the extension of the validity of the agreement granting free medical assistance to Filipino boxers and combat sports fighters.

Through memorandum 2020-0445 dated October 16, 2000 and signed by DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, the health agency has extended the validity of Administrative Order No. 2017-002 — a joint agreement between the two agencies granting free medical assistance to ensure the overall health and welfare of professional Filipino boxers, MMA, and muay thai – until December 31, 2020.

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“Relative to the expiration of the DOH-GAB MOA on August 25, 2020 and upon request of GAB due to the effects of Covid-19 pandemic to their professional careers, the 28 selected DOH hospitals, 3 specialty hospitals, and other pertinent DOH offices are directed to continue the provision of free medical services to boxing and MMA professionals,” declared Duque in the said memorandum.

GAB Chairman Abraham ‘Baham’ Mitra lauded the DOH memorandum, claiming the free medical assistance is the catalyst for the athletes well-being.

“As the national agency tasked with the regulation and supervision of professional boxing and other contact sports in the country, we are grateful to DOH for this assistance,” said GAB Chairman Baham Mitra.

As pursuant to the existing requirements of GAB boxing and other contact sports division, combat sports athletes are required to undergo and pass a complete medical examination administered by GAB Medical Section, prior to approval or renewal of their boxing licenses.

“Considering that the mandatory diagnostic, medical, and neurological tests proved to be costly for many GAB licensees, this extension is indeed a big help to our pro boxers, MMA and muay thai fighters, especially during these difficult times,” said Mitra.

Philippine MMA founder Alvin Aguilar also expressed his appreciation on the DOH-GAB program, saying GAB is truly a ‘working at pro-active institution’.

“We don’t need another boxing and combat sports commission. GAB is enough, its pro-active program is a big lift to the boxing and MMA communities,” said Aguilar, also the president of the Wrestling Federation of the Philippines (WFP) at Jiu-Jitsu Federation of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Chairman Mitra, Commissioners Ed Trinidad and Mar Masanguid also sought assistance of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) last April to include professional boxers, MMA and muay thai fighters, and their trainers and ring officials in the DSWD Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) Program.

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