DOH Chief calls for bigger role in health agenda for LGU’s

DOH Secretary Enrique Ona explaining the health department programs during his visit in Sorsogon. Photo courtesy of PIA Sorsogon
DOH Secretary Enrique Ona explaining the health department programs during his visit in Sorsogon. Photo courtesy of PIA Sorsogon

By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.

SORSOGON CITY ( – Referring to the devolution of the 1990’s of certain health services and functions to local government units, Secretary Enrique Ona of the Department of Health, considered it as drastic for that time, yet, making do with the available resources, local government units had been maximizing its resources to answer the primary health needs and issues of its constituents. This was one of the positive results of devolution, he said.

The secretary was guest of this province today and during the media huddle, revealed that Sorsogon has notched a grade higher in terms of resource allocations for health services. The statement was a graded reference to the instituted programs of the administration of Governor Raul Lee in health care. But the Secretary would like to see that the under-privilege among us be covered by health cards and they are pushing efforts that 85 percent of sin tax collections be channeled to health programs so that appropriate health coverage be accorded to every Filipino family.

Queried by this writer why treatable and preventable diseases in managing childhood illness are not positively served to most needy and impoverish of the population, he said that health care is not solely in the hands of the department. Citing instances why diarrhea is as prevalence as before, environmental concern affects health standard. “You see, well-being of a person doesn’t end with good health facilities or prevention, there must be safety nets, especially the condition of the environment. It plays a big role if we are to contain preventable and treatable diseases”.

He also revealed that the plans and programs of DOH in expanding its health services in terms of facilities is now almost ready for implementation in the Bicol region with the near operation of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine in Bicol Medical Center in Naga City and the capacity of Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Legazpi City to handle catastrophic medical intervention such as heart by-pass operation usually performed at the Philippine Heart Center.

For the local government units, Secretary Ona said that there must be positive lines of cooperation for LGU hosting district and medicare hospital with the provincial health arms. There must be sequential understanding not only by medical professional based in the said hospital but as well as health workers who becomes first line of defense of public health. Here, the strong support of LGU’s may lead to a free hospitalization of patients in public operated hospitals.

The Department of Health is aiming to globally set its standard in providing health services to the Filipinos as set forth in the Medium Development Goals. This, the Secretary said, is by way of availability and affordability of health care system. Here again the role of local government units should not be diminished.

That’s one of the reasons why the infrastructure health components of the department are distributed to the health needs of provinces, municipalities and cities. We have international partners to achieve these goals and those falling in our health criteria usually benefit funding of the programs, Ona said. []


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