Leadership crucial to responsive health systems

Political will and leadership make a difference in creating equitable and responsive local health systems, pointed out by Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial at the recently concluded second installation of the “Health for Juan & Juana” forum.

“When it comes to primary care partners, we have much to learn from our local government partners. Existing model shows how political will and leadership can make a difference in creating equitable and responsive local health systems,” Ubial said in a video presentation.

She cited prioritization of health in budget allocation, partnerships with other development organizations for additional resources in improving health infrastructure and facilities, and maximizing PhilHealth as among the good practices of local government units (LGUs).  “Some LGUs have adopted healthy cities approach, placing heath in the agenda of offices in LGU,” she added.

For Ubial, gone are the days when health matters are discussed only within the confines of the Department of Health (DOH).

“The DOH recognizes that advancing primary healthcare necessitates local government units fulfill their mandate to provide quality health services to their constituents,” she said.

Zuellig Family Foundation president Ernesto Garilao echoed that given the right intervention like a health leadership and governance training program, local chief executives can improve their health systems and improve health indicators.

ZFF has been working closely with LCEs to help improve their understanding of local health systems.

Noting the lessons learned from the foundation’s work, Garilao said, “If the local chief executive has an understanding of public health and of his role in improving the health status of his constituents, then he, along with his health leadership team will take responsibility and make necessary investments to make his health system pro-poor.”

Ubial and Garilao were among the more than 30 experts from the government, academe, development partners, and private organizations that discussed the current state of the Philippine health, almost a year since the Philippine Health Agenda (PHA) was introduced.

Under the PHA, Filipinos, most especially the poor, must be protected from high cost of healthcare, attain best health outcomes, and feel respected and valued in their interaction with the health system.

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