4 north Luzon governors respond to challenge of UHC

During the Department of Health’s series of summits, four governors stated their priorities to advance toward Universal Health Care (UHC). The four are from the provinces of Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, La Union, and Ilocos Norte, all enrolled in Zuellig Family Foundation’s (ZFF) Provincial Leadership Development Program to Accelerate UHC (LDP-UHC).

For Pangasinan Gov. Ramon Guico III, the priority will be on investments that will improve the 14 provincial government-managed hospitals and their health workers.

Similarly, Ilocos Sur Gov. Jerry Singson shared that investments to ensure quality health services are in place to address the financial burden brought about by infirmity.

La Union Gov. Raphaella Veronica Ortega-David called for all municipalities to integrate into a province-wide health system and pushed for cooperative undertakings that would ensure all sectors are ready to support the health needs of the people.

Meanwhile, Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Manotoc shared that his province is already integrating UHC-aligned health programs across all municipalities.

The LDP-UHC will help governors realize their priorities since the program is designed to help improve leadership and technical competencies to strengthen primary care, enhance health facility referrals, and ensure needed investments to support such reforms.

As Sytiongco said, “Universal Health Care (UHC) requires commitment, dedication, and strong will among all significant players,” and LDP-UHC is expected to develop the related leadership competencies.

With the theme “Hawak Kamay Tungo sa Tagumpay, UHC Ating Iwagayway,” the series of UHC summits included discussions on UHC law’s principles and policies led by former DOH Undersecretary Dr. Mario Villaverde. PhilHealth Vice President Dr. Israel Pargas also presented the financial integration measures. A gallery walk showcased the initiatives and early successes of the four provinces.

During the events, key stakeholders in the Ilocos region–led by the governors, mayors, local councils, hospital chiefs, and health officers–signed the pledge of commitment to lead the provincial health system reforms to achieve UHC goals and improve health program and service delivery in the provinces.

(Published September 9, 2022)