By Charina Clarisse L. Echaluce
The job could be more fulfilling the second time around.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III disclosed his priorities and plans for the agency, which he is leading anew after a four-year stint under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“There are high expectations and greater challenges with a much bigger budget of P165 billion now than when we started with a P10-billion budget in 2005. The DOH equally has a huge responsibility and accountability to the Filipino people,” said Duque, who was the health chief from 2005 to 2009.
In his first press conference since assuming the post from former Secretary Paulyn Ubial, Duque said that he has begun to meet with the officers and staff of the agency who will be “emboldened to continue and accelerate the implementation of the Universal Health Care agenda.”
Reforms, he noted, must be pursued with renewed enthusiasm and a transformational vision for the DOH to regain the top performing spot among government line agencies in terms of public satisfaction and responsiveness to patients and the public.
“While we confront today persistent health challenges such as high maternal and neonatal mortality rates, increasing burden of TB and HIV/AIDS as well as emerging problems like non-communicable diseases, mental disorders and drug resistance, these can all be systematically and strategically addressed if everyone in the DOH is willing to adapt a governance system of framework,” Duque stressed.
He also announced the renewed commitment of the DOH to pursue a performance governance system (PGS) which was started in 2009 during his first term, in which the DOH managed to achieve the first two of four stages of transformational governance, which are Initiation (2009) and Compliance (2010).
The initiative was a partnership between the DOH and with the Institute of Solidarity in Asia (ISA) and the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) to improve DOH systems and strategies to achieve its long-term vision of guaranteeing equitable, sustainable, and quality health care for all Filipinos.
Duque recounted how a gap was experienced in the implementation of the PGS initiative as the DOH stopped before reaching the Proficiency and Institutionalization phase. He said he will revive the efforts under his present leadership so that the last two phases will be realized.
“We need to adopt a culture of evidence-based metrics that will enable the health department and the public to monitor how the health sector is working to achieve better timeliness, better responsiveness, better quality, and better outcomes for patients,” he noted.
Duque will also push public hospitals to improve their effectiveness, efficiency, responsiveness, and quality of health services to patients through enforcing the Anti-Red Tape Act and working with the Civil Service Commission through the Contact Center ng Bayan (8888 Hotline) to address patient feedbacks and complaints on the services of public hospitals.
Moreover, he will continue the priority health programs that were started by Ubial under the Philippine Health Agenda.
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