Empowering patients in DOH hospitals

By Jess Lorenzo

Posted at Feb 21 2015 08:51 AM | Updated as of Feb 21 2015 04:52 PM

Secretary Janette Garin has been at the helm of the Department of Health (DOH) for a short time and she has gotten off on the right foot.

In a conversation with her, she said, “The patients need to feel the services and the development in public hospitals.”

In line with this, Kaya Natin Movement has launched the National Hospital Quality Improvement program, which is a partnership between DOH-Kaya Natin Movement and the Philippine Alliance of Patient Organizations.

A Technical Working Group was formed together with Kaya Natin Movement in order to bring together existing Hospital Score Cards to be rolled out by June, 2015. During the meeting, the different offices of DOH presented existing rating systems from PhilHealth's Bench Book to the ongoing ISO 9001. The group's goal is to establish a unified assessment system that is periodically done in the DOH hospitals which is also owned by the patient groups.

Unfortunately, it was also revealed that many of the hospitals only perform the necessary rating system out of compliance. It seems that after several efforts from DOH, the Hospital Rating always becomes a delinquent issue.

Part of the strategy of the initiative is to partner with the PAPO (Patient Alliance of Patient Organization) in order to include the patient groups in the rating system. In doing so, the demand can be cultivated and sustained since they are the direct clients and beneficiaries of the health services.

During the MeTa (Medicines Transparency Alliance) Philippines forum on February 18, Girlie Garcia-Lorenzo, PAPO president said,

“This is where PAPO will dwell in order to empower the patient groups towards having the capacity to develop a coherent voice and a venue in which the government will listen.

"...We will engage patient groups where they are and no matter how new in order to enable them to organize towards developing clear agendas and advocacy goals.”

On engaging government to be heard, she said, “The DOH-KN-PAPO National Hospital Quality Improvement Program....This program serves as a venue where we will establish a system in which patient input in hospital development can be consistently heard and responded to.”

In closing, she also reminded the patient groups, “…But as we begin to get organized; as we start building our capacity to be heard; we need to measure ourselves by how creatively we engage government in order to create change.”

Kaya Natin and PAPO have initiated talks thru Adel Briones of the Associated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia & Pacific (http://www.ansa-eap.net) to partner in operating known strategies that work in empowering civic groups. This strategy essentially goes beyond the a technical perspective of a standard hospital scoring established by the joint Technical working group to also establish venues for creative participation of the patient groups. The idea is not to be combative with government, but to creatively engage and co-create solutions.

Indeed, Secretary Garin’s leadership is off to a good start. She is starting with the primary clients of DOH in mind. I am sure this will be a generative effort that will give birth to many breakthroughs in Health Governance in the country. This is a break from the traditional-technical (only) approach which will bring great wisdom to DOH leaders.

In a conversation with a DOH doctor, he said, “Ay mahirap kausap ang mga patient groups… kalaban yan.” I did not correct him because I knew his vantage come from a perch he has gotten used to and comfortable with. I felt sorry that he looks at his primary clients and beneficiaries as enemies. I momentarily paused and thought of the many other doctors who have the same view. But I sighed with a nod and found hope in the DOH leaders I now work with.

We at Kaya Natin will be following this closely since we know that there are many of our countrymen and their families who wish for better health services. We hope to highlight the gains from these good governance efforts.

Good Governance in Public Health thru Citizen Empowerment and Responsive Leadership… Kaya Natin!


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Jess Lorenzo is a Board Member of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership. @kayanatin on Twitter

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