TO BRING together concerned local government officials and address the pressing health issues in Cagayan de Oro, the City Council's Health and Sanitation Committee in cooperation with the City Health Office will spearhead the first citywide Health Summit which is set on March 2.

The summit is themed "All Health towards Health for All in CdeO" which will be participated by 80 village chieftains in the city and their respective health councilors, and also of officials coming from related health stakeholders in the city such as the Department of Health (DOH) and PhilHealth.

"The health summit was initiated to tackle the health concerns of the city's 700,000 residents and to empower local leaders and health officials on the matter of health services to their constituents. This is done to provide positive health outcomes in the city and to pinpoint possible improvements in health," City Councilor Maria Lourdes Gaane, chairperson of the Health and Sanitation Committee said.

Among the topics that will be included in the summit's discussion are the city's major health concerns like vector borne diseases primarily Dengue fever, Chikunggunya, and the Zika virus. These mosquito borne diseases are, according to DOH representative Dr. Joselito Retuya Jr., the most rampant in the city especially dengue.

"The prevention and the services for these diseases is one of the major concerns here in Cagayan and especially now that we have the rainy season," he said.

Gaane said that the summit will also tackle how the city health offices could better take part in the handling of the rehabilitation of the drug surrenderies from President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs program and to discuss the possibility of making an ordinance to make the city smoke-free.

In connection to this, Councilor Reuben Daba announced that there are discussions and propositions on making city ordinances that will strengthen the law against smoking in the city.

"We are fashioning this from Davao city where we have observed that there are absolutely no one smoking in public places. We are looking at implementing strict fines and deputizing some of our local officials such as kagawads to lessen the number of people smoking in the streets or in public places," Daba said.

One relevant topic in the summit will also be the rate and management of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Cagayan de Oro. Retuya clarified that major steps especially in the prevention and diagnosis of this virus has always been done by the DOH. One project that they are currently working on is the opening of Sundown clinics in the city wherein people who suspect they have HIV will be able to avail diagnosis even after office hours.

"The number of people living with HIV doesn't matter. What matters is that the city's health offices are working together to tackle this issue and that fair and indiscriminate dissemination of information is practiced in the media for the benefit of all," Retuya said.

Among the guests that will attend the summit is Senator Risa Hontiveros who will be discussing her own health initiative as the chairperson of the Senate Health Committee. This would include her bill to increase the honoria of village health workers nationwide.

She would also be tackling her proposed "Tres Marias" bills: Senate no. 1251 which seeks to punish those behind misogynistic and homophobic attacks on social media, Senate bill 1252 or the Anti-rape Act, and Senate Bill 1250 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill.