Governor Jerry U. Dalipog visited two patients at their homes last March 28, 2023 to have a better understanding of the plight of his constituents who experienced difficulties accessing higher levels of health care within the province.
He visited a 70-year-old senior citizen suffering from end-stage renal disease secondary to diabetes, who gets his twice a week dialysis session at a private dialysis center in the neighboring town of Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya. The other patient visited was a 22-year-old young mother from Lagawe who was referred to Panopdopan District Hospital, but had to give birth in the ambulance while in transit.
Ifugao currently faces the challenge of not being able to provide higher levels of health care to its constituents as a result of the limited-service level capabilities of its existing hospitals. To date, out of the six district hospitals in the province, only two are categorized as Level 1 service level capability, while the rest are all categorized as infirmaries. Panopdopan District Hospital and Potia District Hospital are the only Level 1 hospitals providing in-patient health services for the entire province.
The dialysis patient’s wife expressed her sentiments on the need to have fully equipped laboratories within the province, so as for them to not rely on a private laboratory that sends tests to Manila for results. She also wishes to have a dialysis center within the province. The young mother who gave birth in the ambulance also wished the Ifugao General Hospital (IGH) was operational during her delivery as it was nearer to her home.
While the province’s 11 primary care facilities are all licensed, the hospitals were delimited from providing higher levels of care, especially when IGH that is expected to serve and cater to more patients was declared unsafe by Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), and temporarily serves as an outpatient clinic due to unmet licensing standards.
Governor Dalipog vowed to operationalize a relocated IGH to a much safer area, which is currently on the rise as a new infrastructure through a P32M allotment from the Provincial Government, and with funding augmentation of P50M for infrastructure, P10M for equipment and P2.5M for motor vehicle from the Health Facility Enhancement Program (HFEP) of DOH in 2022, and another P10M for infrastructure this year. He hopes that IGH reaches its completion and becomes compliant to DOH licensing standards, with the necessary medical equipment and human resource complement. The second-term Governor and his provincial health team targets the operation of IGH as a Level 1 hospital by August 2023, and as a Level 2 facility by 2024, before his second term ends.
Dalipog added that prioritizing health programs fulfills his leadership journey. “Ti puso ken panunut ko ket health for social development”, he added. His visit to his constituents is part of the governor’s deep dive learning journey under the Provincial Leadership Development Program (LDP) of the Department of Health (DOH) and Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF), that aims to guide Local Chief Executives to become better health managers in their own areas.
The Province of Ifugao is one of the Universal Health Care Integration Sites (UHC IS) in the country that is expected to undergo health system integration reforms provided for under the Universal Health Care Act or RA 11223. One of which is the improvement of health services delivery through the establishment of a health care provider network (HCPN). Ideally, the HCPN is composed of primary care and tertiary care (infirmaries; at least Level 1 and Level 2, and or Level 3 hospital) providers that offer people-centered and comprehensive care in an integrated and coordinated manner. Having this established in Ifugao, together with a seamless referral system in the province, would help realize one of the UHC Act’s objectives, which is to provide access to quality and affordable health care and protection from financial risk for the people.