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Dumaguete City, Philippines Saturday, October 22, 2016
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Health agenda presented

The Department of Health is in the process of defining a system that will ensure the entitlement of every Filipino of health services, and aims to achieve sustainable development goals as part of the Administration Health Agenda.

DOH Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, who led the first national staff meeting in Dumaguete City that will end today, said the center point of the AHA included three goals, three guarantees and three values that would lead to the attainment of the 13 Sustainable Development Agenda.

A guarantee of essential health services, for instance, would free patients from the burden of completing the rabies vaccine doses for animal bites or drugs for tuberculosis patients. This will be included in the formula that will be guaranteed by DOH so that local government units will make sure they are available, she said.

To achieve the goals, a seven-point strategy will be put in place, including financial risk protection, better health outcomes, responsive health systems, and efficiency, effectiveness and responsiveness, she added.

Ubial considered as crucial the matter of defining the entitlements, particularly on who shall pay for the services and goods availed of by the patient, how to provide these services for free, which facilities shall they go to in order to access these entitlements, whether government has the capacity to provide these to all Filipinos, how many personnel shall be trained, how many facilities will need upgrading, such as clinics and diagnostic facilities, and how many barangay health stations to be built.

Another area that needs to be defined is the essential health packages for pregnant women so that a budget will be guaranteed for the screening of HIV-AIDS, and the free drugs that will be provided to those who tested positive, she said.

Ubial, who was joined by the DOH regional directors, assistant secretaries, undersecretaries, chiefs of hospitals, doctors and nurses, in the meeting that started Thursday, said the implementation of the service delivery network is long overdue.

The other guarantee is for the universal health insurance coverage to provide maximum benefit to poor patients. She said PhilHealth is now crafting new packages that will actually address the common health needs of the poor.

She said there is also a plan to increase the premium collection and payments for government employees. As of now, the contribution is only 2.5 percent of their salaries and there's a cap of P35,000. It will be changed to 5 percent with no cap, which means the richest Filipinos will be contributing more to the national health insurance fund.

Ubial also discussed the strategies to attain the Philippine Health Agenda 2016-2022. These include health promotion, primary care and quality for health services that is pre-illness to address a concern that Filipinos would only go to a heath facility if they are sick; coverage of all Filipinos against financial risks through the national health insurance program;

Harnessing the power of strategic human resources for health; investment in electronic health and data for decision-making; enforcement of standards accountability and transparency; value clients and patients; and elicit multi-stakeholder and sectoral support for health.

Gov. Roel Degamo, who welcomed the guests and participants of the DOH meeting, said he is confident that his requests for the improvement of the central block building of the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital will be given favorable consideration by Ubial.*JG


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