The Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) is honored to share its on-the-ground experience and knowledge while learning from others in the independent advisory board created by the Department of Health (DOH) to fast-track Universal Health Care (UHC) reforms, with the appointment of Austere A. Panadero, executive director of the ZFF as a member.
DOH officer in charge Rosario Vergeire formed the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts for UHC Implementation (UHC SAGE) to build on the gains from the public-private, multi-sectoral participation
for COVID-19 response.
Other members of the board are ZFF trustee Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral representing the Philippine Heart
Center, University of the Philippines (UP) professor Antonio Dans, M.D., UP Professor Emeritus Ernesto
Domingo, M.D., Medical City consultant and former UP professor Mary Ann Lansang, M.D., Dr. Edwin
Mercado of the DMMC Institute of Health Sciences, UP Manila Chancellor Carmencita Padilla, M.D.,
and former UP School of Economics Dean Orville Solon, Ph.D.
Based on the DOH personnel order 2022-4852 creating the group, the responsibilities of the members include the provision of technical assessments and review of documents on the following:
- Nationwide adoption of the Philippine Health Facility Development Plan as an investment plan for health
- Implementation of fiscal streamlining in public hospitals
- Implementation of the Diagnosis Related Group-Based Global Budget and the Comprehensive Outpatient Benefit Package
- Reconciliation of the databases of the Philippine Statistics Authority and PhilHealth, and the conduct of a primary care census
- Creation of a Central Medicine Store for pooled procurement
- Development of a Pharmacy Benefits package that allows PhilHealth to accredit and pay for retail pharmacies
- Streamlining of accreditation and licensing for primary care facilities
- Implementation of healthy schools, communities, and workplaces
- Establishment of the DOH Action Center and hospital fast lanes for health care workers’ concerns and benefit compensation processing
- Creation of health scholarship opportunities and the Medical Reserve Corps
ZFF’s UHC program
By the time Universal Health Care became law in 2019, ZFF had designed a program to assist three provinces—Agusan del Sur, Aklan, and Bataan— in the UHC transition. ZFF’s earlier work with provinces prompted governors to establish a functional service delivery network involving both provincial and municipal health facilities. The gains during the program provided a backbone for the three provinces’ work on UHC and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Provincial health boards (PHBs), whose memberships expanded, were fully activated under ZFF’s pre-UHC program. During the pandemic, the PHBs quickened the pace in localizing policies, pushing for local health reforms, and engaging various stakeholders. These provinces increased health care capacities, upgraded medical equipment and laboratories, and kept their people informed.
With ZFF guidance, the provinces remained deliberate in meeting the government-set key result areas (KRAs) for UHC maturity during the pandemic. The three fulfilled all 12 KRAs under the preparatory level six months before the government’s end-2022 target.
The developments in ZFF’s provinces prompted then Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje to ask ZFF for a similar program for regional health officials. The resulting partnerships for northern Luzon officials introduced the Leadership Development Program, which improved the capacities of regional officers in mentoring and coaching local chief executives and health officials. As a result, provinces and cities moved faster in meeting targeted KRAs. In three months, the partnerships expanded to have governors enroll in the ZFF program. Before 2022 ended, ZFF had partnerships with four regional offices of the DOH: Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region, and Eastern Visayas. These involve 15 provinces: Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Apayao, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Ifugao, Benguet, Northern Samar, Samar, Eastern Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte.
(Published March 2, 2023)