One of those people is Mayor Alfred Coro of Del Carmen, Siargao. He was content with his corporate IT job and didn’t see himself working for government, until he was called to public service in 2010.
When he was elected mayor, one of the observations that struck him the most was the poor health condition of Del Carmen. Mayor Coro saw that health was not a priority, with the lack of funds and equipment, as well as low staff morale. This was apparent in the high incidence of malnutrition among children and the spread of infectious diseases in the community.
This compelled him to create the Seal of Health Governance (SOHG), a monitoring and evaluation tool to improve the overall municipal health system. Covering all 20 barangays, this tool allowed Del Carmen to create a mechanism to measure health targets, such as incidence of maternal and infant deaths, malnutrition rates, and sanitation in households, among others.
To make this happen, Mayor Coro created a committee composed of health workers and officers, Sangguniang Bayan representatives, and civil society organizations, which set the performance indicators. Meanwhile, another group was created which was composed of agency representatives to evaluate the implementation of programs in each barangay.
To encourage participation, he set corresponding incentives for any barangay that meets the performance standards. For example, a cash prize of Php20,000 (gold seal) is given to a barangay with a score of 90 to 100. Barangays with scores below 90 receive the silver seal, equivalent to Php10,000, while those scoring below 75 received the bronze seal, equivalent to Php5,000.
Through the SOHG, Del Carmen has come a long way in terms of advancing the health of the community. For one, it has made sure that birth deliveries are done in health facilities to ensure the safety of mothers (less mothers resorting to ‘hilot’ or home deliveries). It led to the decrease in incidences of malnutrition and the spread of diseases. Lastly, the community made it possible that all households have access to sanitary toilets which, to them did not look attainable in 2012.
As a result, in 2015, Del Carmen was awarded the Champions for Health Governance (CHG) Award by Kaya Natin! Movement for Ethical Leadership for Good Governance and MSD in the Philippines. The local government received Php100,000 in cash to continue funding their health programs, as well as Php500,000 worth of medicines and supplies from the Department of Health.
According to Mayor Coro, these achievements are all because of the people of Del Carmen working together to make a healthy, vibrant, and engaged community.
“Apart from the statistics and the recognition, what I can be most proud of Del Carmen is that it boosted people’s morale about the community. It also cultivated a better sense of working with government—they became partners in initiating change and creating solutions to make their lives better. For me, that in itself makes going into politics a worthwhile experience,” he shared.
With the CHG Awards coming up, I’m excited to hear more stories like Mayor Coro’s. For some, working in development may not be their first choice, but it eventually becomes a fulfilling one for them.