Aguilar: Heath governance and bridging leadership

Against the current

I WAS part of the team who rolled out a Department of Health program on health governance to the LGUs that started in 2013. The program was anchored on the framework called “Bridging Leadership (BL).”

BL as a framework can address the problem of inequality around us. Let me simplify the framework so we can learn from it.

Inequality exists when there is an essential difference in people’s access to basic services such as water or health care. To cite an example, a pregnant woman in Bacolod City would have a better chance of healthy and successful child birthing as compared to a pregnant woman who lives in a remote barrio in Candoni. In the same manner that there is inequality with the fact that Metro Manila have better access to basic services as compared to our small municipalities in Negros Occidental.

Inequalities are forms of social evils which could be addressed through good governance. And it is so timely to bring this into open as the new set of local leaders begin to carry their term of office. Yet how could this be effectively tackled?

BL proposes three steps in facilitating development. These are:

1. Ownership. Leaders have to own the inequalities in their community. The first step of ownership is the awareness of the specific problems that their community faces. If our leaders are ignorant about our problems then they can’t commit to help us solve it as well. They should therefore have to take time to get out of their comfortable offices from time to time and go around just to see for themselves how the community functions on a day to day basis. Only then can they really size-up the gap between the services they offer and the level of how we enjoy them.

2. Co-ownership. Inequalities cannot be solved by a single man or a single unit. Leaders should learn to share these burdens to all sectors of the community by bringing them on board through consultations and civic empowerment. Everyone should be considered as a stakeholder in social development.

3. Co-creation. The problems will not be solved if and when after all consultations and planning, all business operates as usual. Leaders have to generate something new. The old system has to be disturbed even if it only means intensifying best practices. But this change should be a product of a systematic thinking otherwise it would just be a trial and error approach and it would just be a waste of time and resources where the desired outcome would probably not be reached.

Bacolod City and our neighboring municipalities have our share of social inequalities even just within our respective jurisdictions. If I were to mention few- not everyone has access to water, electricity, health care and even basic education.

The questions now are; will our newly elected leaders own such inequalities with a sense of urgency? Or will they just ignore them knowing they are on the better side of the spectrum? Will our private sector share the burden of our local government? Or will they remain indifferent?

Finally, as the newly elected leaders assume their office next month, will business resume as usual? I hope not.


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