Remarks of Sec. Enrique T. Ona DOH- Zuellig Family Foundation MOU Ceremonial Signing

May 16, 2013

DOH Convention Hall

Greetings (VIPs)!

ZFF Chairman Roberto Romulo, ZFF President Ernesto Garilao, Director Manuel Gotis, Dr. Khadil Sinolinding, Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries, Directors of different bureaus and regions, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant good afternoon.

Just 2 days after Filipinos cast their votes, here is something else Filipinos can look forward to: mayors more adept at running their local health systems as the Department of Health announces this three- year joint project with the Zuellig Family Foundation intended to formally educate 609 mayors on health leadership and governance. We believe that this is very timely as with the objective of influencing the newly elected officials.


The Department recognizes the mandate of the local government units in financing and managing local health systems by virtue of the Local Government Code of 1991.  With this mandate, health programs and local strategic policies should be now more aligned to the real needs of those at the community, however, health indicators and outcomes reflect otherwise.

At the beginning of this administration, the estimated Philippine population was about 20 million families with an average of five members each. Public health services such as prenatal care, immunization, and family planning, were hardly accessible to about 4 million poor families or more than a sixth of our population.

Moreover, more than 5 million poor Filipino families, that is a quarter of our population, did not have any form of health insurance. These are the very poor families who, owing to their unfortunate circumstances, are more susceptible to illnesses and indeed fall ill more often, and yet they are also those with fewer resources, if any, to spend on their health.

The sad reality was that around 30 – 40 % of sick Filipinos die without ever seeing a health professional. To many Filipinos, good health seemed illusory; it was practically unattainable due to their physical and economic limitations.

It was against this backdrop that the current health reform agenda dubbed as Kalusugan Pangkahalatan or Universal Health Care was conceived. In fact, the unfortunate circumstances I have just narrated have directly moulded and inspired our blueprint. With the realization that it is our less fortunate countrymen who have more at stake in the perennial problems in our health sector, we have devised an approach which focuses on our poorest countrymen.

Under the Aquino Health Agenda, it recognizes the importance of intersectoral collaboration among the multiple stakeholders and good governance to achieve equitable, sustainable and quality health care for all Filipinos especially the poor.

Today, the Department of Health marks another milestone in its history as it seals its partnership with one of the nation’s recognized foundation. This Public- Private Partnership with Zuellig Family Foundation aims to strengthen leadership and service delivery both at the national and local levels.  We are hopeful that this program will help to address the challenges and inequities in the health sector and eventually lead towards the attainment of Universal Health Care and our health-related Millennium Development Goals.

This Health Leadership Governance Program (HLGP) capitalizes on the systematic transformation of local health systems by enhancing health leadership and governance capabilities of our local chief executives. This project is adopting the strategy used by ZFF since 2009, the “Health Change Model”. It is based on the assumption that leadership is the key to changing systems and innovating programs that lead to better health outcomes. 

Faced with tight budgets and limited knowledge in health systems, most mayors have difficulty providing their constituents with quality health care. Through this joint initiative, mayors can learn how to maximize their resources for health, prioritize health issues and engage their constituents in health planning and implementation.

At present we are targeting the 609 priority municipalities and cities identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission and hopefully we would be able to expand this nationwide. In detail, this program will cover 15 regions, 54 provinces, 549 municipalities and 60 cities all over the country.

Through this partnership, we are optimistic that the country will achieve its health- related MDG targets by empowering the local chief executives and health workers.

Thank you and Mabuhay tayong lahat!