Opening Message of Secretary Enrique T. Ona during the Health Partners Meeting

September 14, 2010


Opening Message of Secretary Enrique T. Ona during the Health Partners Meeting


September 14, 2010, 1:00 PM
Sofitel Hotel


Members of the DOH Executive Committee

Our Directors and staff at the DOH,

Our development partners and international agencies

Other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant afternoon to everyone!
Let me first thank everyone for coming and participating in our First Health Partners Meeting as we strengthen our health cooperation within the new Administration and also frame a common health agenda in the next few years.  I thank the Bureau of International Health Cooperation (BIHC) and World Bank for organizing this meeting and for agreeing to include the agenda of the planned Philhealth Registration Day on October 3, which is the first major activity of the Aquino Government in pursuit of the SONA commitment to attain Universal Health Care in two to three years.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am aware that the partners and organizations in attendance today are the most deeply engaged in the implementation of the reform efforts in the health sector for the past decade.  Particularly, all of you have been significant contributors to the Health Sector Reform Agenda of the DOH as well as actions to reach the Millennium Development Goals that have helped us in our goal of reaching the poor with high-impact health interventions.

Our experience in health cooperation has shown us that there is a clear way forward.   During the launch of the Philippine 4th Progress Report toward the attainment of the MDGs, we’ve seen how greater coherence of our efforts have helped us attain many of our disease reduction and poverty alleviation targets, although progress stall in some areas particularly in improving child nutrition and maternal health.  However, in recent years, we saw how investments have grown exponentially and how momentum was built around the execution of the strategies to save mothers and newborns within the bigger context of strengthening the national and local health systems.
There is much more to do. But building on the partnerships that now exist, I am positive that we can accelerate the path toward the MDGs as we arrive at the homestretch towards 2015.
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me now draw your attention to the bigger mission of the DOH to achieve Universal Health Care. 

The Government knows that we must move beyond patchwork solutions and resolve to address the monumental challenges of our health system that go even beyond the disease targets of the Millennium Development Goals. 

For example, we must widen our horizon to more strongly address other disease challenges that bring poverty to our people and this includes the imposing burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).  NCDs already dwarf the burden of TB, malaria and HIV/AIDs combined.  Thus, we have already identified them as a priority area of action in the so-called MDGmax initiative of DOH. However, much like the plight of other developing nations, we find ourselves with the least capacity to confront the high costs and demands for long-term care and more specialized services for these lifestyle diseases.   Building a health system that can cope with the demands of chronic lifestyle diseases must therefore be an explicit goal in the next medium-term for the DOH working with our partners.

Second, to effectively gauge whether we are achieving results and delivering on our commitments, we must finally build a health information system where all of us in the health sector can draw all the relevant health information that we need.  We must harness the potential of ICT to enable the fast flow of information, goods and services that will in turn translate into more lives saved and more savings in energy and resources. Investment in these systems and new technologies can come from the private sector and the development assistance of our partners linked to our disease reduction initiatives.

Third, the need to change and improve the healthcare system is now clear at all levels.  Today, the public hospital system faces many pressures --- pressure to contain costs, increase beds, manage complex diseases and compete with their private counterparts in a friendly way to remain financially viable.  Meanwhile, we face severe backlogs in many of our poor localities in the delivery of even the most basic health care. Primary facilities are lacking and basic drugs and supplies are in short supply. 

Together, we must forge an innovative path toward a more equitable and rationalized distribution of health care facilities nationwide. I call on our partners to help us in our renewed national effort for transformation and reform in healthcare. Let us create a new national blueprint for our hospitals and health facilities… building on the investments that we have begun to upgrade their capabilities and harnessing the potential of public-private partnerships to fill our human and infrastructure gaps.

Thank you, good morning and I now formally open our Health Partners Meeting.