ZFF-DOH forge partnership toward UHC goals

“Investing in health for all is not optional so we should invest in the health leaders’ competencies to lead the way to UHC (Universal Health Care) implementation,” said Health Undersecretary Myrna C. Cabotaje during the opening ceremony of a UHC Convention held in Baguio City yesterday.

The Department of Health (DOH) was a partner of the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) for a program in health leadership and governance program that ran from 2013 to 2018, with Cabotaje participating in one of the training components when she was still the regional director of DOH Ilocos Region. And today, a new partnership was signed with DOH’s Center for Health Development (CHD) in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Ilocos Region (Region 1), and Cagayan Valley (Region 2) to strengthen the leadership and governance capacities of regional, provincial, and city health leaders and professionals to fast-track the achievement of UHC goals despite the pandemic.

The ceremonial signing was part of a two-day UHC Convention for Northern Luzon, wherein leaders from the CAR, and Regions 1 and 2 shared good practices and innovations in addressing the gaps and challenges of UHC implementation amid the pandemic.

Capacity-building of key health leaders
The partnership program, called Leadership and Development Program for Universal Health Care (LDP-UHC), builds on the achievements of ZFF’s Provincial Leadership and Governance Program (PLGP), which started in 2013. Compared to other UHC sites, the three provinces under ZFF’s current PLGP design (Agusan del Sur, Aklan, and Bataan) are progressing faster toward attaining UHC despite the COVID-19 pandemic, making them possible models for the rest of the country when Congress reviews the UHC law’s implementation in 2025.

PLGP focuses on sustaining gains, strengthening the provincial health system to produce better health outcomes, and achieving the required managerial, technical, and financial integrations under the UHC maturity model of DOH. The updated program has also been tied to the COVID-19 response to ensure continuity amid disruptions, such as pandemics, with a focus on primary health care (PHC).

As Regional Director Rio L. Magpantay of DOH-CAR pointed out in his welcoming remarks during the convention, “Ensuring strong primary health care in every community is the foundation to a strong UHC.”

The LDP-UHC includes training for regional directors, assistant directors, and UHC coordinators through two executive sessions on strategic leadership, management, and planning to support faster UHC implementation. There will be two modules for provincial health team leaders to help them coach, mentor, and provide technical support in setting up province-wide/city-wide health systems for UHC. There will also be a six-month practicum period with coaching and mentoring. A learning session will mark the end of the LDP-UHC.

As a result, provinces in their regions would have advanced faster, if not completed all requirements to have functional provincial health boards, restructured provincial health offices, provincial health investment plans, and management and health promotion committees. They would also be committed to taking necessary actions to ensure uninterrupted progress toward UHC.

ZFF’s partnership with DOH has led to other noteworthy collaborations, including with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). With this new partnership with the three CHDs in Northern Luzon, ZFF hopes that more agencies will follow the lead to accelerate the achievement of better health outcomes for all Filipinos.