Message of Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona during the Stakeholders' Step-up Campaign Forum on the Philippines MDGs

September 8, 2010




Dusit Thani Manila, Ayala Center, Makati City, 


National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)

UN Resident Coordinator

UNICEF Representative

President and CEO, Catholic Media Network

    Other officials and heads of government agencies, our development partners, friends from the civil society, our media, other guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
    It is a pleasure for me to welcome all of you to this Stakeholders Step-Up Campaign Forum for the Philippine Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  Today, we will look at our progress in meeting the MDGs based on 4th Progress Report which we shall be launching this morning.

    Secretary Paderanga of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) will walk you through our current standing and will also present recommendations on how we can further accelerate our course toward the MDGs. As we listen to his presentation, I encourage everyone to take note of the points where we can contribute our own share, however modest, to attain the MDGs.

   In the area of health, The Philippines’ First, Second and Third Progress Reports on the MDGs showed that we are on track with most of the goals though we lag behind with a few of the targets, notably in reducing maternal mortality and in improving child nutrition. 

    Uneven progress and wide disparities also exist within the country despite some examples of success in many of our MDG targets.  These shortfalls are brought about by inadequate investments in health and not enough political will of our leaders to do what needs to be done to achieve our goals.  Unhappily, these shortfalls leave behind the poorest and the most disadvantaged sectors in our society who remain un-reached by critical health interventions. 

    This Forum will hopefully serve as an opportunity for change and a renewal of our country’s commitment to the MDGs.   The MDGs are a guidepost for all of us --- leaders and donors--- to pour efforts and aid on the problems of the poor and be mindful of targets that hold us accountable in terms of delivering on our commitments. 

    Ladies and gentlemen, we must do everything within our power to keep our eyes on the target and not be shaken though the task is huge and difficult as never before.

    At the Department of Health, we have been maximizing the opportunities that have been brought about by the unparalleled increases in our health budget since 2008.  A budget that continues to increase every year gives us the leverage to act more boldly and no excuse to fail in meeting the MDGs.  At a time when a lot still has to be done, we know that there has to be a total commitment to maximize country resources and energy toward achieving results, even going beyond what is required of us by the global MDGs.

    Hence, in consonance with the objectives of the health sector reform agenda to achieve better Health for All Filipinos, the DOH began its emergency initiative for faster and earlier results toward the health-related MDGs in 2009.    We call it the MDGmax initiative.  The MDGmax is a strategy with bolder targets and a more rigorous timeline for action.  It is a deliberate commitment to direct country efforts and investments toward the poorest and most needy sectors using cost-effective interventions, which can generate the maximum impact.   We have also added a few targets on top of the globally identified MDG priorities such as reducing the cases and deaths due to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) by 2% every year because these are fast overtaking the burden of infectious diseases in causing disease and poverty.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take this opportunity to commend our partners in making this event and the formulation of the Fourth Philippine Progress Report possible. First, let me thank the NEDA and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for spearheading the preparation of the report. I would also like to thank our consultant, Dr. Celia Reyes of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), for her efforts in analyzing the data and consolidating the comments on the whole MDG report.

    Our sincerest gratitude to the United Nations Country Team, the members of the NEDA Multi-Sectoral Committee on International Human Development Commitments (MC-IHDC), the reactors and other participants from government organizations, non-government organizations, civil society organizations, academe, research institutions and the private sector for their valuable inputs and recommendations during the two Consultative Workshops held on May 21 and July 16 of this year at the Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila.

    Lastly, our appreciation goes to the UNDP, UNICEF, the Government of New Zealand and the Australian Agency for International Development for their financial and technical assistance.

    On this note, I welcome you to this event. Let us once again renew our zeal of commitment to the achievement of the MDGs by supporting the thrusts of our present administration.

    Helping the poor rise from poverty as engendered by the Millennium Development Goals must remain as our goal...the North in our compass as we envision to create a stronger, a more humane, just and progressive Philippines. 

 Magandang Umaga at Maraming Salamat po!