Gov’t service devolution to LGUs key to universal health care in PH, says experts

Posted on 05/23/2023 09:30 am
Gov’t service devolution to LGUs key to universal health care in PH, says experts image

Implementation of a universal health care system in the Philippines may come to fruition with the issuance in June 2021 of Executive Order No. 138, which paves the way for devolution of health and other public services from the national government to local government units (LGUs).

For this strategy to work, Ernesto D. Garilao, Chairperson of the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF), recommended capacitating local officials through leadership training, incentivizing LGUs to collaborate with the private sector, and developing policies to ensure stakeholder inclusivity.

Garilao cited ZFF’s Health Change Model involving 744 municipalities and 18 provinces across the country, which brough about downward trends in the prevalence rates of child stunting and wasting—particularly in Sarangani, Northern Samar, Samar, and Zamboanga del Norte.

On the other hand, Dr. Lahaina Gabriel-Bulaong, President of the Association of Municipal Health Officers of the Philippines Bataan Chapter, shared that strong political will and motivation of local leaders were crucial to their success in improving the health system for the people of Dinalupihan, Bataan.

Progress includes the construction and renovation of health facilities at par with Department of Health (DOH) standards, attainment of an acceptable facility-population ratio, and creation of a functional surveillance unit that referred 74% of constituents via PhilHealth’s Konsulta package.

Backed by his experience as the Provincial Health Consultant of Tarlac, Dr. Ricardo P. Ramos proposed a two-track level at the DOH National Central Office—high spending on health promotion and prevention in tandem with the treatment and rehabilitation of critical illnesses.

Ramos advocates greater focus on the family, which he said is “almost lost in oblivion” during policy discussions. “The parents have to be given the adequate knowledge [and] 

skills to push them to an attitude that will ensure the healthy well-being of the family and society in general.”

The experts presented their program results and policy recommendations on Day 1 of the Luzon Regional Scientific Meeting (RSM) held from 17–18 May 2023 in Baguio City and 

hosted by the National Academy of Science and Technology’s (NAST) Health and Social Sciences Divisions of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The Luzon RSM, organized by NAST in cooperation with the DOST-Cordillera Administrative Region Office, also highlighted the latest outputs of research centers and higher education institutions through the scientific poster session.

Resolutions generated from the discussions will be consolidated and presented during the 45th Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from 12–13 July 2023 in Manila under the theme “Science and Technology for Democracy (Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Demokrasya).” (By Allyster A. Endozo, DOST-STII)