DSWD, DOH, Zuellig Family Foundation sign pact to solve health problems in Zamboanga PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 November 2010 14:47

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, and the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) has officially forged an alliance aimed at addressing prevalent health problems in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” J. Soliman, ZFF Chairman Roberto Romulo and Dr. Manuel Ponce (in behalf of DOH Secretary Enrique Ona) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the formation of the Zamboanga health alliance last October 19, 2010.

Secretary Soliman, enthusiastic over this development said that “this is the first of few”, referring to the public-private partnership, “to focus on poverty reduction and health”.

‘Health for all’

According to Secretary Soliman, when people hear of partnerships between the public and private sectors, what comes to mind are merely economic aspects. But this alliance, she said, is one for a social cause, particularly, “health for all”.

The alliance’s mission is to “promote responsive public health leadership and governance through partnership (and) convergence”.

The road before the MOU signing

Prior to the MOU signing, the alliance was already in motion in Zamboanga City. On June 22, 2010, ZFF, in collaboration with the DSWD 9 conducted a Health Partnership Meeting to explore opportunities for collaborative work between different stakeholders in health in the Zamboanga Peninsula. This meeting forged the “Health Champions”, composed of ZFF, DSWD, DOH, Provincial Health and Social Welfare Offices and the Ateneo de Zamboanga School of Allied Medicine.

On July 21-22, the partners once again met for a Bridging Leadership and Alliance Building Workshop. In addition to the afore-mentioned stakeholders, the PhilHealth was then represented.

Finally, on September 27-28, the health partners finalized the terms of reference for the alliance and drafted its institutional arrangements.

The core group members include the ZFF, DSWD, DOH, PhilHealth, and the LGUs of the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay.

The signing of a Memorandum of Agreement for the Alliance shall be done within the coming months.

The partners’ roles

The DSWD will be providing barangay health stations through the KALAHI-CIDSS Project. It’s conditional cash transfer program, or the 4Ps, will ensure that the poor families will avail of regular health services. The National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) shall provide a database of the poor households.

The DOH, meanwhile, will upgrade and enhance their health facilities through its Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care Facilities. Moreover, it shall provide technical assistance and capacity building trainings for health professionals, and to augment human resources in the municipalities. The DOH will also augment drugs and medication provision.

The PhilHealth will conduct the accreditation of health facilities and provide trainings for advocacy and knowledge officers, as well as provide technical assistance with the Alliance.

The LGUs shall constantly provide administrative and technical assistance for the engagement to their covered municipalities.

Lastly, the ZFF will be providing new methods on health care through leadership trainings for mayors and health professionals. This includes continuing medical education training for midwives and barangay health workers. Moreover, they shall be providing regular technical assistance for the covered municipalities. 

Initially, the poor municipalities of San Pablo and Lapuyan in Zamboanga del Sur, Leon Postigo in Zamboanga del Norte and Tungawan in Zamboanga Sibugay have been selected for the engagement.

‘Poor Zamboanga’

A study released by the NSCB reveals that of the country’s top 10 poorest municipalities, 6 are found to be in Region IX, where 95 percent of these municipalities have a poverty incidence higher than the national average.

“We know that that Zamboanga region is very poor. Sharing this information to our stakeholders, rather than be ashamed of it, brings us one step towards getting more help,” shared DSWD Regional Director Teodulo Romo, Jr.

‘Hoping for more partners’

Director Romo furthered that this engagement is proof that everyone is interested to join in the fight against poverty and inequities. “This is just the beginning. Zuellig Foundation’s move to join in the fight against poverty and inequities will hopefully inspire more to become our partners. We know that there are more potential partners to be tapped, and we need all the help we can get.”

The Alliance sees to tap other partners namely the Department of Education, Church and Tribal Leaders, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Governors, Mayors and Provincial and Municipal Health and Welfare Committees.

It is seen that before the year ends, the engagement will finally touch the poor municipalities identified above.

But as it was said, “this is just the beginning”.