Helping improve local health systemBy Charles E. Buban
Philippine Daily Inquirer
According to Health Secretary Enrique Ona, around 30-40 percent of sick Filipinos die without ever seeing a health professional.
“To many Filipinos, good health seemed illusory; it was practically unattainable due to both their physical and economic limitations,” said Ona, who added that the government may now have found a way to address this challenge.
Last week, the DOH entered into a partnership with Zuellig Family Foundation to start the Health Leadership and Governance program, a three-year initiative that aims to enhance the skills of local government executives so they could deliver better healthcare services.
Ona said: “Faced with tight budgets as well as limited knowledge in health systems, most mayors and the rest of local executives have difficulty providing their constituents with quality healthcare. Through this joint initiative, mayors can learn how to maximize their resources for health, prioritize health issues and engage their constituents in health planning and implementation.”
The program has prioritized 549 municipalities and 60 cities in 54 provinces, which were identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission. The aim is to implement this program to the rest of the country.
With training expected to end in 2016, the program is estimated to cost P1 billion. To raise this amount, the ZFF and its partners—United Nations Population Fund and MSD (Merck Sharp and Dohme)—will contribute P125 million.
The foundation is currently communicating with other organizations like the Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund), USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and AusAID (Australian Agency for International Development) that all have expressed interest in providing additional resources for the program.
While the ZFF will provide leadership and governance training programs for officials of DOH’s various bureaus and regional Centers for Health Development (CHD), certified partner academic institutions will provide leadership and governance training program to municipal and city health leaders.
The trained CHD officials, in turn, will provide technical coaching and assistance to governors and mayors as well as health officers in the provincial, city and municipal levels.
The Health Leadership and Governance program is adopting the Health Change Model that ZFF has been using since 2009.
ZFF chair Roberto Romulo explained that the model is based on the assumption that leadership is key to changing systems and innovating programs that lead to better health outcomes.
“Since piloting the strategy in 2009, the foundation’s 97 partner municipalities have continuously decreased its maternal and infant mortalities,” Romulo said. “While bringing down the country’s maternal mortality ratio is proving to be a challenge, most of our partner municipalities have hit the 2015 Millennium Development Goal target of 52 last year,” he added, referring to the MDG goal of reducing maternal mortality ratio to 52 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015.
Romulo said that by bringing this intervention to the 609 LGUs, the ZFF and its partners are optimistic that the country will achieve its health-related MDG targets, while at the same time develop empowered leaders to improve not only the health outcomes but also the overall quality of life of all Filipinos.
Ona believes the Health Leadership and Governance program is very timely as with the objective of influencing these newly elected officials.
“Under the Aquino Health Agenda, it recognizes the importance of intersectoral collaboration among the multiple stakeholders and good governance to achieve equitable, sustainable and quality health care for all Filipinos especially the poor,” said Ona.