Health care on wheels: A little push for political will

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) launched on Wednesday, May 14, the DOH on Wheels: Kalusugan Pangkalahatan or KP Roadshow which aims to bring health care advocacies to every corner of the country by 2016.

The roadshow will also leave behind 11,000 nurses and 5,000 midwives in different areas to pursue programs to be started by the health department.

Starting in Quezon City, the KP Roadshow will also be rolled out in the following areas in the coming months:

Health Undersecretary Janette Garin said the roadshow will empower Filipinos to demand from their local government officials better access to health care services. (READ: Aquino to poor: Avail of free healthcare)

"Kasi nandiyan ang commodities, nandiyan 'yung knowledge. The services are there, kulang lang talaga ng konting tulak kasi nga nagwatak-watak because of devolution,” she added. (The commodities are there, the knowledge is there, the services are there, but a little push is needed, especially with the division caused by devolution.)

Garin said the biggest challenge is to convince local government units (LGUs) to invest in health care. (READ: Ona: Take health care out of politicians' hands)

"Majority of LGUs have placed health care foremost in their agenda. Unfortunately, there are still some that neglect health care. And sad to say, the impact of that is not affecting them personally; it’s affecting the community,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.

In January 2014, Health Secretary Enrique Ona mentioned in an interview with Rappler a proposal to amend the Local Government Code and revert to the DOH the direct supervision of provincial health officers and municipal health officers.

HEALTH CARE ON THE ROAD. Inside one of the buses for the KP Roadshow are examination rooms like this one. Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler

HEALTH CARE ON THE ROAD. Inside one of the buses for the KP Roadshow are examination rooms like this one.

Photo by Jee Geronimo/Rappler

Public health promotion

The roadshow was launched first in Quezon City to emphasize the importance of political will in the provision of health care services. (READ: How to make healthier choices available to Filipinos)

“We saw in Quezon City the political will in terms of applying public health programs of the Department of Health," Garin said. 

"This is what we would like to showcase: the Department of Health will always be there to support programs for Kalusugang Pangkalahataan, but we can only do it if the local government's chief executive, as well as the local government officials, will be there to also assist us.” 

Aside from Quezon City, the following areas were prioritized:

Garin said the roadshow aims to visit 3 provinces every month until June 30, 2016, with a budget of P1 million per region.

It will focus on promoting public health while providing services and information to women and children, adolescents, fathers, and senior citizens of every community. (READ: #SONA2013: The state of public healthcare in the Philippines)

The initiative comes as the country’s health stakeholders work double time to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 – the reduction of child mortality and the improvement of maternal health in the Philippines. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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