By: Jazmin Bonifacio
Nine local government chief executives from Eastern Visayas have successfully graduated the Municipal Leadership and Governance Program (MLGP) initiated by the Department of Health (DOH), Zuellig Family Foundation and the University of the Philippines Manila School of Health Sciences in a colloquium ceremony last September 29, at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Conference Center, Makati City.
The graduates were Mayors Gemma Zosa of Sta. Margarita, Samar; Kathleen Prudenciado of Almagro, Samar; Marilou Latorre of Villareal, Samar; Mark Biong of Giporlos, Eastern Samar; Mario Nadera of Mondragon, Northern Samar; Loreto Yu of Alang-Alang, Leyte; Fe Renomeron of Burauen Leyte; Alden Avestruz of Barugo and Manuel Sia-Que of Dulag Leyte.
The MLGP is a one-year, two module program offered by the DOH for town mayors and municipal health officers aimed at capacitating to improve their governance in the health sector, health service delivery, health workforce, health information, access to essential medicines and healthcare financing.
The government recalls that the people of Eastern Visayas have had a hard time paying for doctors, services and products of pharmacies and diagnostic centers due to the rising poverty in the region coupled with the remaining high rates of medical expenditures. Predicaments also include low state funding for public health care.
However, according to Dr. Exuperia Sabalberino of the DOH regional office 8, overhauling the current scenario is much needed.
Particularly remarkable with the MLGP program, DOH and LGUs followed a bottom up approach in the conceptualization and planning phases of the program. Starting with coverage of the rural population and the poorest groups, and several LGUs now in Eastern Visayas are now rapidly scaling up their interventions to a larger segments of the population.
DOH urged the town mayors to give budgetary allocations to their health programs and ensure that all people can access health care without financial hardship.
To date, a total of 49 Mayors in Eastern Visayas have already completed the MLGP program of the Department of Health.