Policies, funding to implement MISP for SRH

Due to situations that contribute to increased maternal and infant deaths and a high incidence of gender-based violence, three provinces were chosen as pilot sites for the Zuellig Family Foundation’s (ZFF) Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) training course. Catanduanes was hit by back-to-back typhoons; Laguna experienced high COVID-19 cases; while Maguindanao faced instability wrought by protracted armed conflicts.

The training course, a partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and funded by Australian Aid, strengthened the competencies of provincial leaders to implement life-saving SRH information and services during natural disasters and other public health emergencies.

An assessment workshop was conducted in Tagaytay City from June 20 to 22, 2022 to mark the end of the pilot implementation. It served as a platform to harvest program lessons and insights from the experiences of all project stakeholders.

Thirty participants from the three provinces and key staff from the Health Emergency and Management Bureau of the Department of Health, and the Local Government Academy participated in the workshop.

During the plenary, former Undersecretary for Local Government Marivel Sacendoncillo reiterated that sexual and reproductive health is a development issue. Even sectoral investments in education and social services contribute to improved implementation of MISP and reproductive health, she said. She emphasized that plans and investments “should be standardized to improve the responsibility and accountability of local leaders for MISP.”

Continuing challenges
The workshop participants identified the need for a national policy to support local budgeting of their MISP for SRH plans, and monitor the implementation of local MISP plans. The provinces discussed the policies influencing and affecting the implementation of MISP services, and the governance mechanisms that would facilitate the institutionalization of MISP in local governments.

Nulfarid Ampatuan, Maguindanao’s Provincial Planning Officer, said the province will concentrate on training, capacity-building, coaching, and mentoring to ensure LGU readiness in implementing MISP for SRH during disasters. They will ensure that there are MISP for SRH localized policies with appropriate funds for the planning framework, integration, and cascading of MISP for SRH plans locally.

Vivian de Leon, from the Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Laguna, noted the need for continuous self-improvement for local leaders and highlighted the need to collaborate and work harmoniously toward improving MISP for SRH in the province.

Dr. Hazel Palmes, from the PHO of Catanduanes, said the province would work on funding and resource mobilization from private organizations, civil society organizations, and other agencies. She also recommended having more female staff from the Philippine National Police on the Women and Child Protection Desk to respond to gender-based violence cases, especially during calamities.