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Health is Worth Fighting For: The Cagayan de Oro Health Journey (City Health Services Modernization and Accessibility Program)
Cagayan de Oro City
In order to address the poor public health and safety system in Cagayan de Oro, the city launched a City Health Services Modernization and Accessibility Program that aimed to modernize and make the city’s health care system inclusive.
The building blocks of CDO’s healthier local health system included health volunteer expansion, capacity building of rural health providers, implementation of a health financing scheme, enhancement of health infrastructure, and, use of information technology. An important cornerstone of the Health Program was strengthening partnerships and stakeholder involvement through the activation of the Local Health Board, as well as the formation of the Mental Health Council, Anti-Drug Abuse Council and the Nutrition Council, that provided the platform for the active engagement and participation of various sectors in improving health service delivery.
In 2013, the city enrolled 50,000 families in PhilHealth which resulted in an average of 271,428 individuals coming from low-income being protected families being protected annually. A testament to this was Mitch who had 47 gallstones that needed to be operated on. Such an operation would cost PhP130,000, however, her gallstones were successfully removed in a surgical procedure at the JR Borja General Hospital (JRBGH) for free. This became possible because of the No Balance Billing Program, which could be attributed to the masterful implementation of the PhilHealth capitation program as well as the effective and efficient pooling of health and medical aid facilities even before the establishment of the Malasakit Center. Aside from this, the rehabilitation and expansion of the JRBGH allowed such a delicate procedure to happen.
The program helped reduce infant mortality rate from 20.99 percent in 2016 to 12.73 percent in 2020 through an invigorated City Health Office implementing Child Health programs such as National Immunization Program, Breastfeeding program, Nutrition and Integrated Management of Child Illnesses in rehabilitated health centers.
In addition, the program also reduced the number of home deliveries because of the functional two-way referral system between Maternity Care Package- accredited (MCP) health centers and JRBGH, Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) and private hospitals which resulted in reduced maternal mortality.
The innovations implemented by the program unified the curative and preventive health approaches by synchronizing the operations of the City Health Office and the JR Borja General Hospital. In order to add the needed health service financing scheme, the City Health Insurance Office (CHIO) was created in 2018. It is a distinct office to manage National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) implementation in the City, institutionalizing NHIP implementation and maximizing PhilHealth benefits. This resulted in an efficient way of submitting PhilHealth claims, collecting reimbursements from PhilHealth, procurement of equipment, medicines, supplies and materials for the health facilities, and apportioning the professional fees to health personnel and program assistants.
To ensure the transferability and sustainability of Cagayan de Oro’s public health system, it was aligned with the Universal Health Care Law (RA 11223) enacted in 2019. The establishment of the Special Health Fund under the management of the Local Health Board has been institutionalized by RA11223 which acts as a repository of budget coming from the local government, the DOH, PhilHealth and other government agencies like PCSO and Pagcor.
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