GenSan eyes merger of 2 local health offices

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/03 Jan.) – Local health authorities are pushing for the reintegration of the city government’s two health-related departments in a bid to enhance the delivery of various services to local residents.

Dr. Edgardo Sandig, city health officer, said Friday they have linked up with the city council for the passage of a new ordinance that would integrate or merge the city’s hospital services and field health services offices into a single department.

He said the city field health services office and the city hospital are currently operating as separate departments by virtue of an ordinance that was passed in 1998.

The official was referring to Ordinance No. 8, series of 1998, that paved the way for the “splitting” of the then City Integrated Health Services Office into two new departments comprising the hospital services and the field health services.

“This is a problematic setup since the two offices have different policy directions and that should not be the case as both are frontline health services units,” said Sandig, who heads the field health services department.

In the city’s recent campaign against firecrackers, for instance, he said his office’s initiatives were quite limited since they could not include the city hospital in their activities.

While the two units observed the “code while alert” ordered by the Department of Health in connection with the Christmas and New Year holidays, he said both implemented their strategies separately.

“Ideally, the city health office should be able to lay down its policy directions across frontline health units, including the hospital. Health services should be inclusive and integrated as in the case of most local government units in the country,” he said.

Sandig said City Mayor Ronnel Rivera already issued the go-signal for the reintegration of the two departments.

The mayor also commissioned a study on the current setup of the two offices and the needed improvements when the reintegration comes in later on, he said.

“The target is to have the ordinance passed and set its implementation in the early part of the year,” he said.

In the proposed “reintegration” ordinance, author City Councilor Rosalita Nunez noted that there is a need for the city to adopt and establish an integrated health services unit “to cope with the increasing demand of the city population’s health needs.”

Such setup will allow local residents “to receive a continuum of preventive and curative services according to their needs over time and across different levels of health system,” she said.

“The integrated health services will encompass the management and delivery of quality and safe health services in the city, with the end in view to give the public a diversity of health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, disease- management, rehabilitation and palliative care services through the different levels and sites of care within the health system,” Nunez cited.

She said that under the proposed measure, which is currently pending at the committee level, both departments “will be operationally integrated but structurally independent.”

Nunez added that the integrated system will work to bring better access to high quality services, coordinated health care and effective management of health system. (MindaNews)