Monday, August 27, 2012

UHC Team goes to Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija town hall meeting with Pantawid Pamilya leaders

Last Saturday, August 26, 2012, the Universal Health Care team went to Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija to hold a town hall meeting with family leaders of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) as well as nursing students of the Wesleyan University. The UHC team was led by Dr. Ramon Paterno and Dr. Marlene Bermejo.

The event is still part of the ongoing Secretary's Cup, which aims to build a constituency for Universal Heath Care, as well as to hear the sentiments of various stakeholders, including laypersons. In the case of the Cabanatuan town hall meeting, the team was able to get feedback from those who are involved in the conditional cash transfer program of the Aquino administration, which also emphasizes health, particularly maternal and child health, by making it conditional for mothers to have regular prenatal checkups, and for children to have vaccinations and checkups, so the families under the program can get their monthly cash transfer.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Town hall meeting held with local government officials in UP Los Baños

LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA - Activities of the Secretary's Cup continue across various stakeholders. Following the roundable discussion on health governance held at the Diamond Hotel, a "town hall meeting"-style panel discussion with local government executives was held at the Local Government Academy, College of Public Affairs here at the University of the Philippines Los Banos on August 23, 2012.

The panelists in the discussion were former Health Secretary Dr. Alberto Romualdez, Jr., National Scientist Dr. Ernesto Domingo, Dr. Ramon Paterno of the Universal Health Care Study Group, and ULAP (Union of League of Authorities of the Philippines) executive director Sonia Lorenzo, who was also a three-term mayor of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija and a multi-awarded advocate of good governance.

To jumpstart the discussion, video clips depicting health inequities and gaps in referral systems were shown, followed by a reaction facilitated by Dr. Paterno. He contrasted that Philippine health care system with that of the United Kingdom, whose National Health Service provide free health care to everyone at the point of service.

Dr. Domingo then talked about the context of Universal Health Care, framing it as the answer to glaring inequities on health, both globally and locally. He concluded: "Is achieving UHC easy to do? It is not. Look at England, it took them 45 years...and the record holder is Germany, who has a 105-year old system, but still getting there." Nevertheless, he stressed that UHC is a very important goal of every nation.

Meanwhile, Dr. Romualdez emphasized the role of the public, saying: "The public must be informed and empowered in a UHC scheme, and this is also the reason why education is important." He identifies two challenges in governance: First, there are is no consensus about what equity in health really means. Second, 'top-down' decision-making mode leaves no room for participative governance.

Finally, former Mayor Sonia Lorenzo shared her inspiring experiences and success stories in local government as three-term chief executive of the municipality of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. When she became mayor, the health situation was dire: little budget, "dole-out" mentality, and health centers so dilapidated that "will you make sick". However, through a "participation roadmap" which involved various stakeholders, health became a priority in her town, which ultimately led to better health outcomes. "Health is an investment, and the returns are plenty," she says, concluding, "You can never lose when you invest in health."

A very animated open forum ensued, with mayors from all over the Philippines sharing their experiences with PhilHealth and health reforms.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dr. Alberto Romualdez talks governance in launch of Secretary's Cup

Former DOH Secretary Alberto 'Quasi' Romualdez delivered a Health Talk on Health Governance at the 6th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) Week at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza on August 9, 2012.

In his talk - the first of six to be delivered by former Health Secretaries - Dr. Romualdez described governance as 'not just about government' but deals with how the government and other institutions arrive at decisions and implement them towards meaningful changes that are beneficial to the people.

In contextualizing governance in health, Dr. Romualdez likened the complexity of the matter to a 'Rubik's cube', illustrating three dimensions of the Philippine health care system: the stakeholders, the mechanisms (the six building blocks of UHC) and the goals (the three strategic thrusts of Kalusugang Pangkalahatan).

Prior to the talk, National Scientist Dr. Ernesto Domingo gave an overview of Universal Health Care, stressing that it is a response to a dire situation (a fragmented health care system) and an important need (the health, well-being, and financial protection of individuals.

An open forum followed, moderated by Dr. Bryan Lim and Dr. Cecilia Santos-Acuin, who invited the audience to join the future activities of the Secretary's Cup, the ongoing series of debates, talks, town hall meetings, and workshops aimed at generating awareness of, active participation in, and clamor for the attainment of Universal Health Care. The Cup is organized by the Department of Health and the UHC Study Group of UP-National Institutes of Health.

For the month of August, upcoming activities include the first regional debates
In UP Los Banos (originally set at August 18 but will be moved due to the recent floods), a round table discussion at the Asian Institutes of Management (August 23) and a town hall meeting with governors and mayors at the College of Public Administration in UPLB also on August 23.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sec. Enrique Ona, former Secretaries of Health unveil DOH Secretary's Cup

The Secretary's Cup - a series of talks, debates, and town hall meetings that aim to build a constituency for universal health care in the Philippines - was unveiled in a press conference at the Department of Health, on July 25, 2012. Gracing the occasion were Secretary Enrique Ona and four former Secretaries of Health: Jaime Z. Galvez-Tan (1995), Alberto Romualdez Jr. (1998-2001), Francisco Duque III (2005-2010), and Esperanza Cabral (2010).

“KP builds on the efforts of the Department of Health (DOH) in the past five decades, during which programs like primary health care, health sector reform, an integrated referral system, and the National Health Insurance Program (PhilHealth) were developed and implemented,” Secretary of Health Enrique Ona said, as cited in the official DOH press release.

The organizers of the Secretary's Cup - the Department of Health and the Universal Health Care Study Group (UHC-SG) of the National Institutes of Health - UP Manila - were at hand to explain the mechanics of the Cup. "This is not a golf tournament," Dr. Bryan Lim said as he began articulating the activities: Every month, a Secretary of Health will speak about one of the six building blocks of Universal Health Care: Governance, Human Resources, Information Systems, Financing, Regulation, and Service Delivery. Likewise, debates will be held about topics relevant to each building block.

Meanwhile, town hall meetings will be held - from Abra to Zamboanga - to explain UHC to "every Juan and Juana dela Cruz", at the same time seeking their opinions and thoughts about it.

The Secretary's Cup will culminate in February 2013, where the debate championships will be held, and Secretary Ona will deliver a speech that will integrate the issues that were discussed, and the challenges ahead, towards the achievement of UHC in the Philippines.

Also during the press conference, National Scientist Dr. Ernesto Domingo gave a brief talk about Universal Health Care. Videos were also presented calling for Filipinos to "talk about health".


For more information about the Cup, please email