TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte – For their improved health outcomes resulting from health system reforms in their respective municipalities, at least nine Eastern Samar mayors were recognized recently by Zuellig Family Foundation, Department of Health (DOH) and University of the Philippines-Manila, School of Health Sciences.

Mayors Viscuso De Lira (Balangiga), Allan Contado(Balangkayan), Jaime Uy (Gen. McArthur), Mark Biong(Giporlos), Christopher Sheen Gonzales (Guiuan), Edgar Boco(Hernani), Enrique Cabos (Mercedes), Nedito Campo(Quinapondan), Melchor Melgar(Salcedo) were named bridging leaders for completing as well, the Municipal Leadership and Governance Program (MLGP), a leadership capacity program which helps local health leaders in becoming better health stewards of their constituents.

Modular in approach, MLGP contributed in curbing specifically the rate of maternal and infant deaths in “Yolanda” affected areas that considerably had some health challenges after the November 8, 2013 calamity.

Despite the worn-out health facilities, the mayors with their doctors advocated for facility-based deliveries, where pregnant mothers had to give birth only in the presence of a professional health worker who are posted in lying and birthing clinics or rural health units (RHUs).

According to Mayor Cabus, in his strong advocacy to prevent maternal deaths, he ordered that “hilots” should never perform home-deliveries or be jailed, should they do otherwise. He also informed that his municipality was first to be declared Zero in Open Defecation, as he imposed that each household should have their own toilets.

In addition, with the MLGP, which they took side by side with their official duties, the local chief executives became fully aware of their people’s poor health indicators and thus, felt the urgent need to improve them. Eventually, they did not only improve the several poor health indicators but also were able to build back better and more resilient communities.

As DOH-08 Regional Director Minerva Molon put it, after completing the program, they, together with the other partners expect, that these municipalities would be able to sustain better health programs that are not only responsive to the needs of the poor but also resilient to disasters.

For Dean Salvador Destura, UP-MSHS, he feels elated that his institution has contributed to the transformation of local chief executives as well as the municipal health officers into becoming “bridging leaders”, as desired outcomes of the MLGP.

In a brief talk with Quinapondan Mayor Nedito Campo, he said the course which he took for about two years, was quite tough because of the so many intervening factors and reports to comply, added to the official and urgent duties that they had to perform.

In the case of Balangkayan Mayor Allan Contado, he said he was thankful for the knowledge and skills of his municipal health officer, Dr. Nelsie Labro who would remind him always of requirements to be completed and sessions that must be attended in.

The following other doctors were in tandem with their respective mayors in completing the MLGP: Doctors Rosarita Enciso, Corazon Miflores, Marlyn Capanang, Chona Cardoso, Socorro Flores, Salvacion Macapugas, Jener Camposano, and Socorro Campo.

The United Nations Population Fund(UNFPA) was also a partner in the MLGP program.

The Colloquium Ceremony was done at the SMX Aura Taguig, with the presence of Tacloban media. (PIA-08)