The Department of Health (DOH) today reported its 2017 accomplishments bannered by the signing of three key Executive Orders by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte which show the health priorities of the administration: access to Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health services (Executive Order No. 12), establishment of smoke-free environments (Executive Order No. 26), and the regulation and controlled use of firecrackers (Executive Order No. 28).

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III also reported that the DOH through PhilHealth was able to provide social health insurance coverage at 91% of the total population and paid out Z benefit claims for catastrophic healthcare amounting to Php 361 million.  The Z Benefit package covers peritoneal dialysis, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, breast cancer surgery, kidney transplantation, and ventricular septal defect surgery.

Through the DOH Medical Assistance Program, DOH was also able to serve some 1.33 million poor patients in government hospitals amounting to a total of PhP 3.71 Billion.  Meanwhile, some 1.48 million beneficiaries were provided with free access to medicines for hypertension, diabetes, stroke, mental health disorders, thalassemia, Kawasaki disease as well as breast cancer and common childhood cancers.

Another highlight of the DOH accomplishment is the immediate response to the recent Marawi Crisis. The health chief reported that 167 medical teams composed of 646 personnel were deployed on scheduled rotation, provided free consultation services to 104,415 internally-displaced persons at 26 referral hospitals coordinated by the DOH, and provided P222 million worth of logistics, services and financial assistance to address the health needs of an estimated 84,351 families or 389,366 individuals during the Marawi Siege.

Secretary Duque added that in May 2017, the Philippine Health Facilities Development Plan 2017–2022 was approved by President Duterte which outlines the medium-term investment plan of the government in rehabilitating and upgrading existing health facilities, and constructing new health facilities across the country.  The Plan aims to build one barangay health station in every barangay, one rural health unit in every urban health center with a population of approximately 20,000, one hospital bed for every 800-person population and at least two mega hospitals in Visayas and Mindanao, while improving access to specialty services in all regions.

Thus far, DOH through its Health Facilities Enhancement Program has constructed 408 new facilities (362 barangay health stations, 46 rural health units), upgraded/repaired 594 existing facilities (55 BHS, 273 RHU, 266 LGU hospitals) and equipped 404 facilities with basic and advanced medical equipment (231 BHS, 82 RHU, 91 LGU hospitals).  

With regard to the deployment of health workers, Secretary Duque reported that DOH has provided 516 doctors, 17,538 nurses, 4,549 midwives, 788 allied health professionals (medical technologists and pharmacists) and 4,248 public health support staff deployed to geographically isolated and disadvantaged and high-poverty areas. The DOH also granted full scholarships to 1,034 medical and midwifery students through the DOH Pre-Service Scholarship Program composed of 584 medical students and 450 midwifery students.

In 2017, DOH also continued to push back some priority infectious diseases declaring ten more provinces as malaria-free, three provinces and one city as filariasis-free and 8 municipalities rabies-free.  More than 30 million Filipino children were also given deworming drugs in the health department’s war against worms and malnutrition.

On the international front, DOH also featured prominently in the hosting of the ASEAN Summit in 2017 by leading the development of ASEAN Leaders’ Declarations on Ending All Forms of Malnutrition and Combating Anti-Microbial Resistance.  Eleven activities were also organized and hosted by the country to develop ASEAN-wide policies and strategies on malnutrition, antimicrobial resistance, HIV/AIDS, traditional medicine, non-communicable diseases, and strengthening health systems.  About 130 emergency response teams were also deployed during the ASEAN Summit which provided 929 consultation services to the attendees and the ASEAN personnel.

Secretary Duque concluded the 2017 yearend roundup of the DOH on a positive note that the DOH, despite the recent controversies, will continue to take the lead in providing vital health programs and services for the Filipino people.

“2017 may have been indeed a year fraught with challenges but these do not define the health department as an organization still with so many well-meaning, competent and hardworking people in its ranks.   The DOH that I know is number one in terms of public service and satisfaction because Filipinos recognize how they can always count on the expertise and the ready helping hand of the DOH.  We will aim once again to regain the trust of our people through integrity and good governance in 2018,” Secretary Duque concluded.