IHLGP: Legacy of leaders bound together for better health

Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Dr. Gerardo Bayugo said that “motivating people to rally behind a common health vision is not something easily taught and learned.” This, according to him, is the gap that Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have been bridging through the Institutionalization of Health Leadership and Governance Program (IHLGP).

The IHLGP, introduced in 2017, focused on turning local chief executives (LCEs) into health champions who address health inequities in their communities.

Barangay captain Marlon Tabac of Gusa, Cagayan de Oro City shared that through IHLGP, they were able to hold meaningful dialogues and build trust between provincial-municipal-barangay leaders and their constituents. Thus, when COVID-19 struck, people were quick to follow the LGUs’ policies and programs.

Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, USAID Office of Health (OH) deputy director, said that IHLGP has a unique approach that strengthened the LCEs’ health governance and helped them build the capacity of potential leaders around them. “When we talk of IHLGP, there are things consistent and inherent to the program, like the use of health systems roadmaps, scorecards, coaching system, deep dive, bridging leadership, partnership building as a social capital, systems thinking, and adaptive management,” added Oliveros.

Earlier this month, USAID OH agreement officer representative Maria Teresa Carpio shared a similar insight. “Instead of operating in silos, cities are talking with barangays, regions, and provinces. The legacies of IHLGP have shifted the leadership paradigm from what is visible to what is substantive. It’s about nurturing relationships, getting the buy-in, and applying bridging leadership competencies (or owning and co-owning realities and challenges, and co-creating solutions).”

DOH Undersecretary Dr. Abdullah Dumama Jr. also recognized how IHLGP contributed in expanding local health boards, improving barangay engagement, establishing more adolescent-friendly facilities, and increasing the LCEs’ ownership of health challenges. The National Handover and Sustainability Ceremony was held last September 29, 2020 as culmination activity of IHLGP.