President Aquino attends Health Department’s anniversary, presents Bayani ng Kalusugan award

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday attended the 118th anniversary of the Department of Health (DOH), highlighting the department’s achievements in the past six years.

In a speech during the event that was held at the Manila Hotel, the President recalled how they scrambled to respond to a MERS corona virus threat when suspected cases were reported in the country back in 2014.

Despite the challenge that his administration faced at that time, they were able to make a systematic response to address the problem by contact tracing people who might have been infected by the overseas Filipino worker suspected of carrying the virus, he said.

“Di biro ang pagiging lingkod-bayan. Bawat sandali, hinihingi sa atin, hindi lang kung ano ang ating makakaya, kundi ang sagad ng ating magagawa,” the President said. 

“Ngayon ngang ika-118 anibersaryo ng ating Department of Health, lalo lang tayong napapaalalahanan sa halaga ng trabaho ng bawat kawani ng inyong departamento, at ang dakila ninyong serbisyo sa mga Pilipino.”

The President also cited the strides made by the DOH during his tenure as president.

Each year, he said, his government increased the department’s budget, starting from P28.7 billion in 2010 until it reached P123.5 billion this year, augmenting the allocation of the DOH by more than four times.

The government has also expanded PhilHealth’s coverage rate from 51 percent to 92 percent, or 93.45 million of the country’s 101.45 million population as of last December, he added.

Since the government carried out the “No Balance Billing Policy” in 2011, some 1.25 million patients have received assistance from the program, he noted.

The President further reported that from 2010 to 2014, the government upgraded the equipment and infrastructure of 2,862 barangay health stations, 2,626 rural health units or urban health centers, 685 local government hospitals, 70 DOH hospitals, and 14 other hospitals across the country under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP).

To ensure better services through PhilHealth, he said the government has implemented the Tamang Serbisyo para sa Kalusugan ng Pamilya (TSeKaP), the PhilHealth Outpatient Anti-Tuberculosis Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (TB-DOTS), and the Maternity Care Package (MCP). 

Moreover, the President noted that until the first quarter of 2016, the government has deployed to rural communities 2,680 doctors and 15,407 midwives since 2010; 93,174 nurses since 2011; and 459 dentists, 454 medical technologists, and 1,592 public health associates since 2015.

Proof of the DOH’s aggressive work to serve the people is the ISO-Certification earned by 53 out of 70 DOH-retained hospitals, he said, adding that three DOH-attached agencies — the Food and Drug Administration, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and National Nutrition Council – as well as all regional and central offices have also obtained ISO certification.

The President extended his gratitude to Health Secretary Janette Garin and DOH personnel for tirelessly working for his administration and making health programs under the Daang Matuwid agenda a success.

“Ito na nga po ang pagkakataon upang personal akong makapagpasalamat sa mga bumubuo ng ating Department of Health. Alam kong sa nakalipas na anim na taon, tahimik lang kayong kumakayod, at karamihan sa inyo, talagang nakisama sa pagtahak natin sa Daang Matuwid,” he said.

The highlight of Thursday’s event was the presentation of the DOH’s Bayani Ng Kalusugan Award that honors the achievements of individuals and organizations in attaining universal health care.

The DOH confers the award to those who have rendered time and effort to achieve the department’s goal of providing universal health care for all Filipinos.

The individual awardees were Dr. Rickson Balalio, a municipal health officer in Nueva Era, Ilocos Norte; Dr. Esperanza Cabral, a former DOH secretary; Virginia Cadano, a midwife in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; Edwin Candido, an anti-tuberculosis volunteer in Region IV; Dr. Agnes Centino, an assistant city health officer in Gingoog City; Sr. Eloise David, a nun and nurse in Region VIII; Dr. Penelope Domogo, a provincial health officer in the Mt. Province; Dr. Egidio Elio, a private medical doctor in Region VI; Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo, a nun and doctor at the National Capital Region (NCR); Paciano Madlay, a barangay health worker in Region IVB; Irenea Ordinario, a barangay health worker in Region VII; Concepcion Petalino, a barangay health worker in Region VII; Melchor Petracorta, incoming vice mayor of Limasawa, Southern Leyte; Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan, a former DOH secretary; and Rosalinda Tanguamos, a midwife and barangay health worker in Region IX.

The organizations that received the award were the Community Based Health Program of the diocese of Ipil, Region IX; the Davao Children’s Cancer Fund Inc. in Region XI; the Marikina City Health Office in the NCR; the Philippine Accessible Deaf Services, Inc. (PADS) in Region VII; and the Ugnayan ng Pahinungod in the NCR. PND (as)