DOH holds first ever virtual National Health Sector Meeting

Adjusting to the present face-to-face restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health (DOH) conducted the 7th National Health Sector Meeting (NHSM) virtually via video conference on July 1-2, 2021. 

The NHSM is a venue for dialogues and discussions on strategic health policies, priorities, and operational issues concerning the DOH and the health sector in general.

This year’s virtual NHSM highlighted the health sector’s progress towards implementing and adopting UHC foundational policies amidst the new normal, hence the theme “Accelerating Universal Health Care (UHC) in COVID and Post-COVID Response”.

In his opening message, Secretary Francisco T. Duque III stated that UHC and COVID responses are no longer independent of one another in terms of strategies and perspectives since they constitute a single ongoing battle that the rest of the health sector must address and respond to. 

Secretary Duque emphasized that the pandemic response efforts allowed certain aspects of UHC implementation to be accelerated, such as strengthening epidemiologic and surveillance networks, improving health emergency responses, streamlining procurement and supply chain management systems, and investing on public health infrastructure. 

The DOH Undersecretaries and Assistant Secretaries served as the resource speakers who  shared the latest updates particularly on UHC policy development, UHC implementation on the ground, COVID-19 Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate (PDITR) strategies, and COVID-19 vaccination.

In addition, Undersecretary Mario C. Villaverde also presented a special topic regarding the effects of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling on the DOH budget and the DOH Initial Devolution Transition Plan for the years 2022-2024. 

According to Undersecretary Villaverde, the Mandanas-Garcia ruling can help sustain UHC implementation and is a positive development for local governments because it can provide additional funding for the financing of health programs and services on the ground.

The two-day event was attended by around 500 individuals from different DOH offices, attached agencies, Centers for Health Development (CHDs), and hospitals/ medical centers/ treatment and rehabilitation centers (TRCs); as well as selected participants from other National Government Agencies (NGAs), Local Government Units (LGUs), health partners, and civil society organizations (CSOs).