For two days this week, I was at the City of Naga to facilitate a Public Health Development Initiative.
The City of Naga is about 30 kilometers southeast of Cebu City. It is a third-class city with a population of over 110,000.
On the first day, we had a workshop with barangay health workers to put together an initial assessment of the needs of the city.
They talked about the maternal health problems of the area.
They talked about problems of dealing with uncooperative mothers, low PhilHealth awareness, and fragmented coordination of maternal health facilities.
Unbeknown to them, they have actually painted a representation of maternal health problems in the country.
Senator TG Guingona and the Ateneo school of Government partnered to engage selected cities and towns towards strengthening the Local Health Board.
The first goal of the engagement is to encourage local government units (LGUs) to strengthen their local health boards by establishing a local health development plan. The second objective is in aid of developing a National Health Policy.
The program focused on the local government in order to pick up the wisdom of the devolution of health services in 1991.
By the second day, we were with representatives from private hospitals, together with the city health officials of Naga, to talk about maternal health a little more.
Everyone was very engaged that we had to cut the forum due to our flight to Manila. When we left, they invited us to facilitate a multi-sectoral planning in May. They hope to launch by the end of June in all the Barangays. While we were preparing to leave, one of the participants who owned a local pharmacy said, "Tama po ang ginagawa ninyo. Makaka-asa kayo sa amin."
This is one venue where Kaya Natin works to push good governance in local governments.
Just today, I came from Antipolo to talk at KN-SeaOil Champions for Environment Governance. In this workshop, regional directors of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) talked about their frustrations in implementing programs and policies due to low awareness of the business sector, the communities, and LGUs.
Kaya Natin and SeaOil seek to establish a discussion to help the EMB in their work. In this forum, I saw how frustrated the directors were but I also saw their dedication. "We need to engage the LGUs more so they can help us on the ground. They have more resources and greater capacity to make things happen."
In another venue, the KN-SeoOil partnership extends in local government executives as well to improve public education by strengthening the Local School Board.
This program is on the second phase where the local government executives will have a deeper appreciation of public education development.
This forum brought together 92 local government units in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The third phase of the program will guide the local execs on how to create participative programs that are relevant to their communities.
In the last forum, Undersecretary Lino Rivera had a lengthy discussion with the LGU heads on how to work together in order to solve many of the public education problems in the community. He also spoke about K12 and how it can help improve public education in the country.
Fr. Ben Nebres, SJ, once said "we need to engage the local government to create change." This is exactly what Kaya Natin is doing -- to stay engaged with government leaders in order to be able to demand, encourage, and facilitate good governance.
This is not easy. It takes patience, perseverance, and lots of creativity.
What other venues can we engage towards good governance? I hope to hear from you.
Comments are welcome at [email protected] or private message through Facebook. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jesslorenzo for stories of good governance.
Jess Lorenzo is currently the program head of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership's public health initiatives. www.kayanatin.org @kayanatin on Twitter