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Signing of Memorandum of Intent to enter into a Bilateral Agreement with USAID

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DATE: 
May 5, 2012

Function Room B, 2nd Floor, PICC

Greetings:

Sec. Cesar Purisima,

Sec. Lualhati Antonino[1],

Undersecretaries, Assistant Secretaries and officials from various agencies of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg,

USAID Mission Director Gloria Steele,

Deputy Mission Director Reed Aeschliman,

Office of Health Chief Ann Hirschey, other officials and staff of the United States Agency for International Development

Good afternoon.

The signing of today’s memorandum of intent (MOI) which signifies the meeting of our hearts and minds to improve family health is very timely as the Philippine health sector scales-up the implementation of universal health care, locally known as Kalusugan Pangkalahatan or KP.  I am excited with the prospect of our continued cooperation under the framework of the Global Health Initiative of the United States, which calls for collaboration for impact, doing more of and scaling up what has been shown to work, building on and expanding existing country-owned platforms for stronger health systems, and innovating for results. These are exactly the things which the Philippine health sector needs as we scale-up KP implementation.

From the start of my term in 2010, USAID support has been instrumental in developing the framework for universal health care as well as in specifying strategies and interventions to improve financial risk protection thorough expanding PhilHealth coverage and support value, increase access to quality services by upgrading our public hospitals, rural health units and barangay health stations, and attain health-related MDGs through focused implementation of public health programs in areas where the poor are most concentrated and unmet needs are highest.

USAID support to improve family health, particularly in terms of addressing unmet need for modern family planning, is a major component of the thrust to achieve MDG commitments.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank USAID for its support to the upcoming Command Conference on Family Planning: Reaching the Poor to Reduce Unmet Need to be held on May 10 to 11, 2012. In this command conference, the DOH and POPCOM along with other key agencies like DSWD and PhilHealth, together with development partners, NGOs and LGUs, will discuss how to reduce unmet need for modern family planning services affecting an estimated 6M women. Of these women, 2.2M belong to the 5.3M poor households listed in the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

The command conference will develop a national FP strategy to ensure that national government support in the form of cash and commodity grants, training, and technical assistance strengthen LGU-led efforts to reduce unmet need for modern family planning through customized solutions directed at generating demand for FP services and increasing supply of affordable and accessible services. 

Working along the lines of the three KP strategic thrusts, we can reduce the poor’s unmet need for FP services by: (1) Expanding the enrollment of poor families into PhilHealth, and then inform and guide them using Community Health Teams on where to get the best services at the least cost by using PhilHealth benefits for family planning; (2)  Enhancing the network and capacity of service delivery providers for family planning, especially for long-acting and permanent methods (LAPM), by upgrading public facilities and contracting private providers where there are gaps; and (3) Fast-tracking the procurement and streamlining the distribution of commodities such as pills, injectables, and IUDs according to the absolute number or headcount of target beneficiaries in our priority areas.

We are banking on a revitalized family planning program as part of a broader maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition (MNCHN) strategy to lead to a breakthrough in meeting Goal 5 of the MDGs, which is to reduce maternal mortality ratio to 52 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, from 90-120 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010.

In the same manner, I wish to acknowledge the support of USAID in addressing other public health priorities such as TB and HIV/AIDS. In particular, we appreciate USAID’s commitment to help the Philippine Government in reducing the wide variation in TB performance across localities. In addition, we also commend USAID’s particular focus on Most At Risk Populations (MARPS) in the effort to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country.   

We are pleased to note that the proposed bilateral agreement that will mandate the next round of support by USAID is programmed specifically to support these directions. This makes the next round of support from USAID as a critical resource for scaling up universal health care implementation in the country. It is therefore in the best interests of DOH and the Philippine Government, to see to it that the bilateral assistance agreement between the governments of the Philippines and the United States is signed on or before September 2012.

Thank you very much and good afternoon to all of you.




[1] Sec. Antonino has been a staunch supporter/defender of the DOH budget to implement the HSRA during her stint as Congresswoman for the 1st District of South Cotabato from 1998 to 2002