Thursday, May 26, 2016

Department of Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin, MD, MBA-H

One of the Department of Health programs that I really appreciated being implemented for kids was the Dengue Vaccine for the Grade 4 public school students through the DOH school-based immunization program. Just recently, my 9 year old daughter had her first shot of the dengue vaccine. Hopefully, she will be able to complete the 3 doses of the vaccine so that I will not worry much about this fastest spreading mosquito-borne viral disease. This is just one of the innovative health program of DOH Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin that she introduced recently over a million 9-year old Grade 4 public school students in NCR,Regions III and IV-A. 

That is why, I was delighted when I was invited to have a talk with the current DOH Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin. The talk was held last May 14 at Outback Steakhouse, Glorietta 4, Makati City. I had the chance to know more of her, being a physician, a national legislator, a leader, and Health Secretary. 

Health Secreatry Janette Garin is a physician and a national legislator for nine years, leading the Magna Carta and Reproductive Health Law, Amendment to the Physicians Act and other key health measures in the Philippines Congress. Her capacity as a natural leader was bravely honored and tested in the Congress, having become among the youngest Representatives who held various senior leadership post while effectively helping in the guiding of critical legislation and bringing up productively that characterized the 13th and 15th Congress.

I like the fact that she is reaching out, keeping in touch with the community through her tvc's and health programs especially for the women, children, elderly and general citizenry. Her exposure in working with the communities gave her a better understanding of the dilemma that some people are going through. And because of that, inspired her to ensure that the legislation and executive policies and programs are in step towards realizing equity in health that will lead Filipinos to enjoy quality lives. Because of her efforts, she was chosen as one of the Top 100 Inspiring People of the World by Women Deliver in 2011, together with several prominent world leaders on gender and development.

Dr Garin graduated cum laude with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology at the Divine World University in Tacloban City. She was an academic scholar and a consistent topnotcher in the Dean's List of the St. Lukes's College of Medicine, and a Silver Medalist in MBA Health at the Ateneo Graduate School of Business. Even as she was fully engaged as  among the core leaders in the 15th Congress working directly with the Speakers, Rep. Garin still managed to earn her Masters Degree in Business Administration focused on healthcare system in 2011.

Dr. Garin was elected Representative of the 1st District of Iloilo for three terms, from 2004 up to 2013. In her first term as legislator, she was elected as the first Filipino board member of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank (PNoWB), an international parliamentarian body that focuses on development issues. In her second term, she was already serving as the Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. During the 15th Congress, she served as the Senior Deputy Majority Leader and was also the Senior Vice-Chair of the Committee on Health. As a legislator, she steadfastly advocated for various health, women's and development issues.

In 2013, Dr. Garin was appointed as the Under Secretary of the Department of Health, where she provided leadership to the Women, children and Family Health Bureau. Early in 2015,  she was appointed by President Aquino as the Secretary of Health. Being in charge of the DOH, Sec. Garin exemplify the Kalusugan Pangkalahatan (KP) core thurst of the Aquino Administration for achieving better health outcomes through financial risk protection, improving access to quality health services and strengthening existing public health  programs for the attainment of health-related Millennium Development Goals.

For the last 19 months, Secretary Garin relentlessly worked on programs and projects that would have the greatest impact on public health, broadened partnerships and introduced systems that make Department of Health more efficient and effective. On assumption, as Secretary of Health, she immediately initiated the development of a strategy to fast-track program implementation and further the agency's gains in maternal, infant and under-five care, control of HIV-AIDS, and establishing service delivery networks. Services were provided where they were needed most, with government hospitals conducting minor and major surgical procedures in otherwise difficult to reach areas of the country.

Sec. Garin initiated the creation of the DOH Academy to streamline training activities and human resources capacities across managerial and supervisory levels. She also introduced performance-based allocation of funds from sin taxes among DOH anh LGU-managed hospitals. She initiated and enabled the creation of a National Implementation Team (NIT) and Regional Implementation Teams (RIT) to oversee the implementation of Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law of 2012 through AO 2015-0002, revived Philippine Blood Centers thus improving National Voluntary Blood Services program and revitalized the Deceased Organ Donation Task Force among others. Another accomplishment is the on going review and improvement of different PhilHealth Packages to improve benefit delivery and utilization to all Filipinos.

In the International front,Secreatry Garin represented the country well thus earning the respect of the international community. As Secretary of Health, Dr. Garin led  the Philippine Delegation to the 68th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2015, and to the 66th World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Western Pacific held in Guam in October 2015. Sec. Garin currently serves as a member of the WHO Executive Board representing the Philippines, since May 2015. The Board is composed of representatives of 34 Member State of WHO and acts as the executive organ of the Health Assembly and gives effects to decisions and policies of the Assembly.