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It’s not everyday that you get to receive a personal report from one of the country’s department heads who also happens to be one of the most prominent leadership figures in the PNOY administration.

Health Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin was appointed to office by President Benigno Aquino III to replace Dr. Enrique Ona last February 17, 2015. To this date, she has served the country as DOH head for 15 months already. Prior to her involvement with the Department of Health, Garin was a member of the Philippine congress representing the first district of Iloilo for three terms (9 years) since 2004.

She was appointed Under Secretary of the Department of Health in 2013.

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As a legislator, Garin was an advocate and one of the key movers for the Magna Carta for Women, Cheaper Medicines Law, RH Bill, Amendment to the Physicians Act and other key health measures in the congress.

As DOH Secretary, Garin immediately initiated the development of a strategy to fast-track program implementation and further the agency’s gains in maternal, infant and under-five care, control of HIV-AIDS, and establishing service delivery networks to difficult to reach areas in the country. Under her watch, the DOH continued to have increasing budget, achieved unprecedented utilization of this budget, and fast-tracked the procurement process without compromising quality and value-for-money.

Secretary Garin also introduced performance-based allocation of funds from SIN taxes among DOH and LGU-managed hospitals.  She initiated and enabled the creation of a National Implementation Teams (NIT) and Regional Implementation Teams (RIT) to oversee the implementation of Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law of 2012, revived the Philippine Blood Centers and revitalized the Deceased Organ Donation Task Force, among others.

Prior to 2010 the Department of Health doesn’t have a lot to go through with Low budget for health, high out-of-pocket payments (53% shouldered by patients and only 8% covered by PhilHealth), inaccessible health services and inequitable health outcomes.

Let’s go take a look at the highlights of the DOH report that Secretary Janette Garin personally presented to the media last Saturday. The report is divided into three categories: Financial Risk Protection, Access to Quality Health Services and Attainment of Health-Related MDGs (Millennium Development Goals).

Financial Risk Protection

  • First and foremost, the passing of House Bill 5727 or the Sin Tax Law in 2012 has provided the much needed leverage for the Universal Health Care program of the administration.  Majority of the health programs are anchored to the funds received from this bill.
  • The Sin Tax Law has paved the way for the National Insurance Act of 2013 and the newly amended Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
  • By the end of 2015, PhilHealth coverage has increased to 92% of the general population and over 5.8 Million of seniors.

Access to Quality Health Services

  • Through the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) the DOH was able to improve the quality of LGU hospitals and health centers, decongest tertiary and specialty hospitals, and increase DOH HRH (Human Resource for Health) deployments which includes doctors, nurses, midwives, dentists, medical technologists, public health associates and a number of non-board passer medical and nursing students working as UHC Implementer and NDPs.
  • DOH has also created the HFEP Management Office for the proper implementation and monitoring of programs.

Attainment of Health-Related MDGs

  • Maternal Mortality Ratio is at an all time low at 114 by the end of 2015 – Secretary Garin attributes this to the departments campaign to close down and discourage all informal birthing places (hilot). Child mortality rate is also lower.
  • Child immunization rate is at a high 90% in 2014 with the introduction of new vaccines for Rotavirus, IPV, Dengue, PCV 13 and Influenza.
  • HIV prevalence is less than 1% but incidence is increasing. Service provision for HIV/AIDS also increased.
  • Vaccines for Seniors (pneumococcal vaccine, influenza vaccine and maintenance medications).
  • DOH also is planning to integrate free HIV|AIDS screening and other blood analysis services for its volunteer blood donation program.

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While there are already a lot of improvements in the health care system in the Philippines, Secretary Garin is still looking at a lot of ways to further improve the delivery of health services to Filipinos especially to those in the provinces, who even with the increased benefits and coverage given by PhilHealth still feels the burden of health care due to other out-of-pocket expenses since most treatment facilities are far from their place of residence.

DOH is now looking at the following:

  • Reducing the cost of medicines (possibly by giving DOH procurement rights to expensive meds)
  • Enhancing provider payment mechanisms
  • Streamlining roles of DOH, Philhealth and LGUs
  • Addressing social determinants of health to improve well-being of Filipinos

“We already have the budget, all we need are the plans that will best serve the majority of Filipinos,” DOH Secretary Janette Garin

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raindeocampo

Writer, Wanderer, Child of God

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