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20The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), and the United Nations Philippines RePubLiKo campaign initiated a series of Roundtable Discussion (RTD) as part of the #ParaSaBayan partnership forged early this year. The series is composed of five (5) RTDs) designed to cover various topics based on the RePubLiKo and #ParaSaBayan initiatives to align with the scope and priorities of the agreement among the three institutions. One of the slated topics is focused on the functions of the government on delivering health services with the theme “Addressing Health Devolution Gaps and Mainstreaming the Philippine Health Agenda to Local Governments” on December 7, 2016 at Microtel by Wyndham, UP Technohub, Quezon City.

With President Rodrigo Duterte’s key campaign platform to shift to a federal form of government, this will have an absolute and great impact on the implementation of health in the local level, as it is a devolved function as defined in the 1991 Local Government Code. This means that health service delivery requires special attention and rethinking if the distribution of powers between national and local governments would be redefined within the context of a federalized government.

In the recently concluded Health Summit event, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell- Ubial unveiled the Philippine Health Agenda of the present administration which will be implemented in 2016-2022, with the theme: “All for Health Towards Health for All”, in consonance with the Ambisyon 2040 of National Economic Development Authority. The national government agenda aspires to attain all health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To operationalize this, they will follow key strategic directions to be able to achieve financial risk protection, better health outcomes and responsiveness.

However, to date, there is still no concrete plan yet on how the Health System will be arranged once the country’s form of government will shift to federalism. As an initial step towards shifting to federalism, a call for a series of organized and disciplined discussions with regard to the matter with local government units (LGUs) will help to determine directions on how to framework the appropriate structure of government functions in delivering basic needs to their constituents.

Thus, the said RTD aims to determine local concerns and issues on devolution, and to formulate legislative measures and policy proposals based on its findings and keep track of government’s progress in implementing policy reforms. The session included presentations on the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP), PhilHealth, and the Department of Health with regard to the Philippine Health Agenda. In particular, the session was guided by the following questions:

  • What are the concerns and issues of local stakeholders regarding devolution of health function and services?
  • What are the current and pipelined initiatives of the national government for the strategic mainstreaming of the Philippine Health Agenda at local level?
  • Which are possible national-local dialogues deemed helpful in developing key proposals and inputs of local governments on health?
  • What are the short, medium and long term plans of the national government, civil society organizations, and local governments to address the identified health issues and concerns?
  • What could be the plan of the national government to make sure that the local governments are ready, in terms of capacity development and financial stability, for the transition to Federalism?