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MANILA - The second Champions for Health Governance Awards has begun accepting applications from local government units in the municipal and city levels and will select the five LGUs with the best health programs after the deadline for submissions on March 15.
Civil society organization Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, global pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), non-profit organization Jesse M. Robredo Foundation, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Health launched the nationwide search for the LGUs with outstanding initiatives for health Tuesday at Club Filipino in San Juan City.
According to Kaya Natin! executive director Councilor Amie Hernandez, the health programs will be evaluated based on their overall effectiveness, innovation, community engagement, local leadership, transparency, and accountability.
These will also be judged according to their adherence to the United Nations’ health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are: reducing child mortality rates; improving maternal health; and reducing incidences of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
Their adherence to the DOH’s Kalusugan Pangkalahatan program will also be measured.
After the screening process, the five best LGUs will receive a cash grant of P100,000 and medical equipment and supplies worth P500,000 from the DOH so they can continue their good work.
LGUs can download the application form at www.healthgovernance.weebly.com.
Many LGUs would rather leave their health initiatives to the DOH, said Kaya Natin! board member Jess Lorenzo.
"A lot of LGUs don't seem to care as much as they are expected to. It's as if they were running convenience stores and just waiting for their health constituents to come," he observed.
What LGUs should be doing, rather, he said, is to "move public health to the last mile."
MSD president and managing director in the Philippines Dr. Beaver Tamesis added that they wanted people at the grassroots level to benefit not just from the government’s efforts, but also those of the private sector, too.
For his part, DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero, in a message read by DILG Bureau of Local Government Supervision director Manuel Gotis, said it was important to continuously assess the accomplishments of LGUs in terms of health service delivery.
He added it was not enough that every poor person was covered by PhilHealth. Rather, every city and municipality must have PhilHealth-accredited facilities so that beneficiaries could maximize the program.
This, said Gotis, was the essence of the Champions for Health Governance Awards.
The initiatives of awardees proved that universal healthcare was "unequivocally attainable," said DOH medical specialist III Dr. Imee Mateo in behalf of Secretary Janette Garin.
Valenzuela City was one of the winners of the first run of the Champions for Health Governance Awards in 2013. City health officer Dr. Jaime Exconde, Jr. said that this was because health became one of the priorities of the LGU beginning 2004.
Former Mayor and now Valenzuela City Representative Sherwin Gatchalian believed that a health citizenry was the cornerstone of a productive community, and this reflected in the budget and expenditures for health facilities and infrastructure.
Even under present Mayor Rex Gatchalian, said Exconde, health facilities had been renovated, more lying-ins were constructed, and the budget was expanded for medicine, supplies, and equipment.
After receiving a P200,000 cash incentive as a recipient of the Champions for Health Governance Award, the LGU organized the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community to collaborate on an HIV/AIDS advocacy and awareness program.
Exconde explained that the LGU focused on LGBTs because men who have sex with men are among those who are vulnerable to HIV.
The LGU then trained the LGBT community in seeking early detection and treatment for HIV. Health promotion and safe sex are also discussed in the community’s meetings.
The program has produced peer counselors who volunteer to educate others about HIV/AIDS.
The LGU also gives financial assistance to their constituents who need to undergo laboratory procedures. Those who need HIV/AIDS treatment are linked to the DOH.