ROADBLOCKS are aplenty as far as the Universal Health Care (UHC) program is concerned.
An official of the Department of Health (DOH) said several mayors are opposed to the mandatory integration of the health system to the provincial government, with some even threatening to file for a temporary restraining order (TRO).
Speaking at the recent DOH Media Forum, DOH - Bureau of International Cooperation officer-in-charge Mar Wynn Bello disclosed that majority of the mayors have expressed their opposition to the integration of the municipal/city health system to the provincial level during the series of nationwide public consultation on the UHC they have conducted.
"Not all local government units are willing to give up their health workers and health facilities to the provincial level. Probably about 63 percent have resistance, while only 30 plus percent would be willing," said Bello.
"They have been saying that if the DOH insists on integrating at the provincial level, they might ask for a TRO. I am not able to identify which mayors are they. But there are really those who are adamant in their positions," he added.
Under Republic Act 11223, health systems shall be integrated into province-wide health systems, composed of municipal and component city health systems.
This means that it will be the provincial government that will have administrative and technical supervision over health facilities and human resources under their jurisdiction.
According to Bello, municipal and city mayors are against the mandatory integration as the Local Government Code provides for a devolved health system nationwide.
But the bigger reason, the health official said, is that local government officials do not want to lessen their political clout.
"It is really more on political willingness. Of course, properties and people are sources of power.
If you will be losing them, you will be losing your source of power," said Bello.
And in a bid to avoid the UHC being dragged into legal battles, he related that the DOH is now considering making the integration of health systems merely optional.
This, he explained, would mean that LGUs will have the option to integrate their health systems at the provincial level or not.
"If the LGUs can ensure that they can provide quality health care services to the people or to the population or constituents even without integration, then that will be acceptable," said the DOH official.
"If they don't integrate, we can't do anything about it. As long as they will implement the UHC, provide health services, continue subsidizing medicines, vaccines, everything," added Bello.
The UHC implementating rules and regulations (IRR) is eyed for release in early October. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)