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LOCAL government units (LGUs) should prioritize the implementation of primary health care services once full decentralization is implemented in the country, according to a senior advisor to the Universal Health Care (UHC) program.

Decentralization, which is mandated by Executive Order 138 that was triggered by the Mandanas-Garcia Supreme Court ruling in 2019, will transfer the delivery of basic services from the national government to LGUs.

In a Thursday briefing, former undersecretary of interior and current technical adviser to the universal health care program Austere Panadero said the UHC program has transferred new functions to local governments and that decentralization has further expanded the roles of LGUs, especially in the provinces.

“LGUs will need to expand their capacity to play this role, and that requires funding, so this full decentralization will be a factor or can help them meet UHC requirements,” Panadero said.

He said local government units should prioritize primary health care services as part of their fully decentralized services, especially in rural areas where health care services are not reached.

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Pasig City Mayor Victor Maria Regis “Vico” Sotto, meanwhile, said his city is continuously preparing to improve its primary health care services in line with the Department of Health’s focus on the CSU.

“We are continually working to ensure that primary health care services are excellent in the city of Pasig…We have created thousands of new plantilla positions for health professionals, and we also plan to modernize our infrastructure,” Sotto said.

He said they were doing their best to prepare despite difficulties in accrediting their facilities as primary care providers for the Philippine Health Insurance Corp’s Konsulta package.