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PhilHealth seeks participation of Indigenous Peoples in communication advocacy campaign

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) Region XII has enhanced the mode of communicating the concept of Universal Health Care (UHC) and its benefits to grassroots communities, particularly to Indigenous Peoples (IP).

To ensure that its initiatives and programs stay attuned with the evolving needs of the IPs, PhilHealth has recently carried out a Round Table Discussion (RTD) advocacy campaign among the Manobo IP leaders in Lebak, Sultan Kudarat.

Participants with Team PhilHealth during the recently held roundtable discussion for IEC development with Manobo Indigenous Peoples (IP) leaders at Cindy’s Place in Lebak, Sultan Kudarat. (Photo: PhilHealth Region 12)

The RTD engaged the IP leaders in the development of marketing and educational materials that contain various PhilHealth Programs that they can benefit from.

The Social Health Insurance Academy (SHIA), PhilHealth's training arm, sat down with 30 identified IP leaders for a dialogue and critique of the materials in partnership with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Sultan Kudarat.

"Your honest thoughts and opinions matter a lot in the process. We have been coming up with too many educational materials without asking from your end if it really fits your needs. I hope to hear you on this," said SHIA senior manager Arsenia Torres.

Torres, who facilitated the discussions, encouraged the IP leaders to critique the educational materials that were presented to them and voice out their sentiments, opinions, and recommendations to improve the materials, including PhilHealth’s other services such as the insurance benefit packages.

NCIP-Sultan Kudarat OIC Provincial Officer Atty. Hanna Pearl Villa-Agustin also urged participants to share their personal experiences regarding PhilHealth’s program implementation and the information collateral distributed in their communities.

"Don’t be shy. Speak out your mind because this is one of your inherent rights as citizens of this nation, to be heard of your sentiments and to be listened to your personal concerns," she said.

IP leader Noralyn Balingay, 42, of Brgy. Bulawan in Lebak town countered that they found the materials interesting but still preferred having a face-to-face orientation.

She also expressed her appreciation for PhilHealth employees for initiating a dialogue with them and seeking their valuable opinions. They were able to voice out matters including issues and concerns about PhilHealth programs.

"I got worried. I was anxious about the renewal or non-renewal of my membership coverage. We used to be taken for granted. We have never been heard. Poor people like us are often left out. But at least, with your presence today and with this dialogue, I feel better. We are heard of our concerns, especially in terms of health. Salamat kaayo," said Balingay in Cebuano.

PhilHealth 12 Membership Section representative Raffy B. Elizares speaks on behalf of PhilHealth XII Regional Vice President Dr. Hector Zenon Leonardo P. Malate during the recently held roundtable discussion for IEC development with Manobo IP leaders from Lebak, Sultan Kudarat. (Photo: PhilHealth Region XII)

Hanah Naanep, information officer of PhilHealth 12, welcomed the comments of the IP leaders and assured them that everything will be treated with confidentiality. It will be then submitted to SHIA for consolidation and will be considered as reference to improve their services as well as strengthen their rapport with the IP communities in Region 12.

The activity was the third leg of the three identified batches organized by SHIA. These commenced in Luzon, followed by Visayas, and most recently in Mindanao, particularly in Region 12 done exclusively for the IPs.

Naanep further explained that they want the IPs to understand the mandates of PhilHealth and what the agency stands for, and involving them in their IEC development was such a "great move" for the state insurance agency.

With various insurance benefit packages for Filipinos, PhilHealth is bent on ensuring all these "comprehensive health care services, from basic primary care to catastrophic packages," are fully implemented. PhilHealth benefits are categorized as inpatient, outpatient, and Z benefits.

On its website, PhilHealth says that the Z benefits refer to the 20 illnesses and health conditions listed under the PhilHealth eligibility package that can be availed of by members.

These include acute lymphocytic / lymphoblastic leukemia, breast cancer, prostate cancer, end-stage renal disease requiring kidney transplantation, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, surgery for Tetralogy of fallot in children, surgery for ventricular septal defect in children, cervical cancer, ZMORPH (Mobility, Orthosis, Rehabilitation, Prosthesis Help), expanded ZMORPH prostheses/ orthoses, selected orthopedic implants, end-stage renal disease requiring peritoneal dialysis, colon and rectum cancer, premature and small newborn prevention of preterm delivery, children with developmental disabilities, children with mobility impairment, children with visual disabilities, and children with hearing impairment.

Team PhilHealth poses with Manobo IP leaders after their roundtable discussion for IEC development at Cindy’s Place, Lebak, Sultan Kudarat. (Photo: PhilHealth Region 12)

In 2018, Dr. Donna Isabel Capili of the Alliance for Health on Improving Health Outcomes developed and brought some of these educational materials: flyers, brochures, posters, streamers, tarpaulins, billboards, stickers, and flip charts to reach out to the Manobo community in Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat.

This initiative served as a testament of PhilHealth’s unwavering commitment to enhancing communication, delivery, and response to the changing health care needs of the local communities. This portrays a promising picture of the nation’s future in the healthcare delivery system.

The UHC Law, officially known as Republic Act No. 11223, intends to increase access to high-quality healthcare for the underprivileged and those living in remote areas while decreasing the likelihood that Filipinos will be driven into poverty simply because they are unable to pay their medical expenditures. (AMB – PIA Region 12)

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