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No more 'doctorless' towns in PHL by end-2012 — DOH chief

November 8, 2012 7:32am

There will be no more so-called "doctorless" towns in the Philippines by end-2012, Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona made this assurance on Wednesday.

“The DOH’s Doctors to the Barrios (DTTBs) program aims to provide equitable healthcare services to all areas of the country by deploying competent, committed, community-oriented and dedicated physicians to serve inaccessible areas,” Ona said in a post on the DOH's Facebook page.

Still without doctors, he noted, are 32 towns in the provinces of Abra, Ilocus Sur, Cagayan, Palawan, Zamboanga del Norte, Maguindanao, Tawi-tawi and Basilan.

The DOH said the new batch of Doctors to the Barrios includes 114 physicians, 92 of whom had been deployed as of Nov. 7.

Ona said the doctors to be assigned to the towns are "trained to be health leaders and managers" in developing local health systems in a devolved set-up.

“We are encouraging our doctors to serve our country because the success of Kalusugan Pangkalahatan (Universal Health Care) depends on all our unified action,” he added.

Target beneficiaries

Ona said the program aims to serve:

- the depressed fifth- and sixth-class towns without doctors,

- third- and fourth-class towns needing additional doctors, based on doctors to population ratio of one doctor for 20,000 Filipinos as set by the World Health Organization,

- rural health units whose rural health physicians or municipal health officers are on study leave.

So far, there had been 29 batches of DTTBs deployed with 553 physicians serving in 390 municipalities since the program started in 1993.

At least 38 physicians completed the DTTB program in October 2012, while 35 of them were awarded by the Development Academy of the Philippines with a degree in Master in Public Management Major in Health Systems and Development.

Presently, the DTTB program caters to 69 towns in 38 provinces in 16 regions.

These towns are in the provinces of Abra, Benguet, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, La Union, Batanes, Isabela, Cagayan, Nueva Ecija, Quezon, Palawan, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Albay, Masbate, Negros Occidental, Aklan, Iloilo, Antique, Bohol, Western Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Davao del Sur, Cotabato, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Maguindanao and Tawi-tawi.

The DOH said the DTTB program provides:
  • an improved and more efficient rural health units,
  • access to adequate and effective basic health services,
  • improved health-seeking behavior of the community, and
  • improved disease surveillance and emergency response
Moreover, it said that through the program, local chief executives will have more consultative and participatory approach to planning and decision-making regarding health issues. — LBG, GMA News
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