Davao City is one of the country’s most progressive cities, thanks to its strong and forward-looking local government. The city’s dynamic approach to governance extends to the provision of a comprehensive range of high-quality health services.
“The first step we took was set the health agenda,” said Dr. Josephine Villafuerte, City Health Officer of Davao City, who spoke on behalf of Mayor Sara Duterte during the 2018 Health for Juan and Juana Forum. She explained that the Local Health Board consolidated the health programs and projects of the national government, private sector partners, civil society organizations and other stakeholders. It then looked at local concerns and issues relating to the health care system. “Based on these data, we developed a road map of interventions at the LGU [local government unit] level,” she added.
Dr. Villafuerte underscored the importance of appropriate health investments. “The Local Health Board drew up a health investment plan with significant consideration for capacity building of LGU health managers and localization of the Philippine Health Agenda,” she said. The city government prioritized access to various levels of care in well-defined and functional networks of health facilities. “Everyone, particularly those living in remote areas and Indigenous Peoples, should be able to access different levels of care in any barangay health station or primary health care facility,” Villafuerte stated.
One of the interventions is Byaheng DO30, which focuses on addressing 10 priorities through the implementation of 30 major programs and projects from 2016 to 2018. The 10 priorities are poverty alleviation; infrastructure development; solid waste management; health; education; agriculture; tourism; transportation planning and traffic management; peace and order; and disaster risk reduction and mitigation.
“Lingap para sa Mahirap provides indigent residents with financial assistance for hospitalization and dialysis, funeral and burial assistance, and medicines subsidies,” Dr. Villafuerte said. Lingap para sa Mahirap help desks are located in the Davao City Hall and Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC).
Tara Na is a community-based drug rehabilitation program being implemented by the city government through its City Anti-Drug Abuse Council (CADAC). The program allows drug dependents to undergo rehabilitation in their own barangay instead of a drug rehabilitation facility. “Tara Na aims to provide a holistic recovery program and facilitate reintegration of recovering drug dependents as productive members of society,” Dr. Villafuerte explained. The program also includes preventive education implemented through 11 partner academic institutions, faith-based groups, and NGOs. In partnership with the Department of Education, CADAC developed an anti-drug module for Grades 4 to 12 students enrolled in the DepEd’s Alternative Learning System (ALS), she added.
According to Dr. Villafuerte, Davao City was the first LGU to implement the Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition (IMAM), a set of updated and scientifically proven protocols that can be used by health care providers to manage acute malnutrition in children six to 59 months of age. “IMAM has helped us lower the incidence of acute malnutrition in Davao City.”
Other health initiatives of the Davao City Government include a strict anti-smoking and liquor ban, a firecracker ban, a speed limit for all motor vehicles, a community-based teen center, a community-based HIV/AIDS rapid testing center, a child abuse hot line, Let’s Go Organic (a local movement of organic farming practitioners and advocates in Davao City), and scholarship programs for deserving medical students, among others.
Teodoro B. Padilla is the executive director of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP). Medicine Cabinet is a weekly PHAP column that aims to promote awareness on public health and health care-related issues. PHAP and its member companies represent the research-based pharmaceutical and health care industry.