TRECE MARTIRES CITY, Cavite Jul 7 (PIA) -- The Deparment of Health, with support from USAID's TB Platforms Project, held its "Usapang Dibdiban:What Local Chief Executives should know and Expect" on July 1, 2020, the first-ever webinar on Universal Health Care.
Several local government heads of the province participated in the said seminar with the municipality of Magallanes Mayor Jasmin Maligaya-Bautista serving as one of the lead moderators of the 3-hour online discussion on UHC.
Carmona Mayor Roy Loyola was one of the panelists who shared concerns on the fund appropriations and implementation mechanisms. Also present during the webinar were Cavite City Mayor Bernardo Paredes and Municipality of Kawit Mayor Angelo Aguinaldo.
Former Senator JV Ejercito, the principal author of the UHC was one of the main speakers of the online seminar was highly committed to educate everyone on the salient points of the landmark bill because he really believes that its implementation will provide access to comprehensive health care to the most vulnerable sector especially during this pandemic.
DOH Special Assistant to the Secretary for UHC and OIC Director Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho presented the framework of UHC implementation. She was joined by former DOH Secretary Paulyn Ubial who presented how UHC will complement the need to strengthen TB and COVID-19 response provided that enabling mechanisms are addressed.
Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas presented how the province will use UHC in integrating its response for both tuberculosis and COVID-19. He mentioned that he is encouraging local chief executives to unite for its immediate implementation. Quirino Governor Dakila Carlo Cua, who is also the President of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, expressed their support to roll out Usapang Dibdiban to engage more local chief exceutives sort out the enabling mechanisms to push for UHC implementation soonest.
PhilHealth Senior Vice President Israel Francis Pargas clarified some issues on fund allocation and relayed that PhilHealth will join other public discussions to be able to impart information on the National Health Insurance Program which under the UHC Act all Filipinos are automatically beneficiaries.
USAID Office of Health Director Ms. Bryn Sakagawa shared that the US Government remains the world's largest contributor of fund support for public health and that through USAID, they continue to provide support to the DOH National Tuberculosis Control Program.
"In this discussion and moving forward, we will use TB as an important tracer disease to measure the success of the UHC implementation. COVID-19 gave us limited access to so many important services but let us not lose track that we need to provide affordable healthcare to the vulnerable and marginalized sector," Sakagawa said.
USAID's TB Platforms Chief of Party Dr. Marianne Calnan, in her closing message, expressed gratitude to the resource speakers from past and present administration, local chief executives leading the discussion on the implementation of UHC, health and information officers who are helping the project promote health education on the importance of continuous provision of TB response amid COVID-19 and to the media institutions led by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) for public outreach on TB-COVID-19 response.
USAID's TB Platforms and PIA are collaborating on social and behavior change communication strategies since the start of the COVID-19 community quarantine. They are coordinating with regional media networks and maximizing social media platforms to make TB a priority agenda amid the pandemic. (Ruel Francisco with report from Diwata Paredes, USAID TB Platforms Project)