It was an honour to meet one of the cabinet leaders of the Philippines’ outgoing administration. In particular, I am pertaining to Dr.Janette Garin, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary.
We met through a blog conference I attended last month whose agenda was to take a look back on the recent programs of DOH under the brief term of DOH Secretary Janette Garin, which is basically less than 2 years.
DOH Achievements and Milestones
In a way, the gathering was a form of departmental report to the public on what it is currently doing and what it has done in the past few years. I believe that most of us in the audience were surprised on the extent of the DOH’s achievements and milestones since we don’t readily see these in mainstream news. Among the highlights in the presscon was the generally improved health sector and increased funding.
From a state of low-budget, high out-of-pockets payments, inaccessible and inequitable health services, the state of health affairs today are better-off according to the secretary.
Moreover, she showed some statistics on the increasing DOH budget year-on-year. Sec. Garin showed total health expenditures comparing the Philippines with its neighboring ASEAN countries, its distribution in differing sectors, and hospital bed ratio to population.
But most importantly, Garin is most proud in the implementations towards Universal Health Care through the aspects of financial risk protection, access to quality health services, and attainment of health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Add to that DOH Governance Initiatives including Service Delivery Networks, Hospital Scorecards, ISO Certification, DOH Academy, and Rationalization Plan of 2014. Lastly, among the major landmark legislations that supported all these developments were the following:
- Expanded Senior Citizens Act (2010)
- Mandatory Infants and Children Immunisation Act (2011)
- Sin Tax Law (2012)
- Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law (2012)
- National Health Insurance Act (2013)
- Graphic Health Warnings Act (2014
- Amended Senior Citizens Act (2014)
After showcasing the above-mentioned milestones and achievements of the department, Garin continued by expressing her desire for sustaining these achievements.
Of primary concern is the push towards a more comprehensive Universal Health Care through increased coverage and expanded benefits of financial risk protection, increased investments and HRH deployment to priority areas, and increased service delivery of MDGs.
She also recognised challenges along the way including rationalising financing mechanisms, functional SDNs, and transition to SDGs.
Sustainable Development Goals
To address these concerns moving forward, Dr. Garin is proposing innovative solutions for each problem areas. For example, to decrease OOP, she suggests to pursue reducing the cost of medicines. While to enhance provider payment mechanisms, fair case rates and co-payment schemes could be adopted.
Lastly, to streamline rates of DOH, Philhealth, and LGUs, she recommends removable of overlapping finance and service delivery costs.
A lot more work lies ahead to make the Philippines a frontrunner in terms of providing proper health care to its citizens. To be honest, a lot more is left to be desired.
However, we should not lose hope as Filipinos. Together, we can rise above our predicament of insufficient health services and eventually improve our health sector for ourselves and the future generation.
On political hindsight, incoming president Rody Duterte has not yet named a new DOH secretary so far. Who knows, Dr. Janette Garin might just be retained as DOH secretary, don’t you think?