Northern Luzon provinces on their way to UHC

Provincial leaders in northern Luzon sharpen their knowledge on how to attain Universal Health Care (UHC) by improving health services and overall health systems. ZFF’s BayangMalusog: Provincial Leaders for UHC Acceleration program gave leaders, which included nine governors in attendance, insights on navigating the challenges UHC demands.

For Dr. Manuel Dayrit, former health secretary and a ZFF trustee, the UHC is the culmination of all health-related laws enacted since the 1950s because it calls for the health of all Filipinos.

He reminded governors and other provincial leaders that “investing in health is investing for the future” and the return on investments includes “decreased premature deaths” and “increased quality of life.”

Dr. Israel Francis Pargas, PhilHealth senior vice president, said the agency is designing its programs “to have a more comprehensive outpatient primary care package” to comply with the UHC law, which calls for every patient to pass through primary care physicians whose gatekeeping role is to ensure proper referral of cases. Ideally, therefore, all diseases are diagnosed at the primary care level.

In closing his presentation, Dayrit voiced his hopes that the governors leave a legacy of better health in their provinces.

The Department of Health (DOH) Centers for Health Development in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Region 1 sponsored the module runs in Baguio City and Laoag City, respectively. Lending their time to support their provincial teams were DOH CAR Director Rio Magpantay, M.D., and Region 1 Director Paula Paz M. Sydiongo, M.D. Caraga Regional Director Cassion, M.D. was also present in the Baguio City module run to join Agusan del Sur Governor Santiago Cane Jr. who shared his bridging leadership journey with the other governors and the accomplishments of his province in UHC. His province has met all requirements for the preparatory level of UHC maturity—a set of standards set by the DOH—and hopes to attain the highest level of UHC functionality before his second term as governor ends in 2025.

For more on Agusan del Sur’s achievements in UHC, listen to

CAR and Region 1 provinces will have their next module in March 2023 after an intensive practicum period which will see ZFF-trained regional leaders coaching and mentoring the governors and their teams. The provinces are expected to meet specific milestones designed to lead them toward UHC

CAR governors present were Apayao Gov. Elias Bulut Jr., Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas, Kalinga Gov. James Edduba, Ifugao Gov. Jerry Dalipog, and Mountain Province Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan. For Region 1, Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Manotoc and La Union Gov. Raphaelle Veronical Ortega-David attended the event, which switched to hybrid following the strong quake in Northern Luzon last Oct. 25. Aklan Gov. Jose Enrique Miraflores, a first-termer whose province has been a ZFF partner since 2016, joined the Region 1 event online. Region 6 Director Adriano Suba-an was in Laoag City.

(Published December 9, 2022)