• Indonesian health team visits South Cotabato

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    GENERAL SANTOS CITY: A 12-member team of health and family planning officials from Indonesia is visiting various areas in South Cotabato to observe the implementation of family planning programs.

    Romulo Palomo, acting head of the South Cotabato Provincial Population Office, on Friday said the team is specifically studying the strategies in the implementation of family planning programs under a decentralized system.

    He said the observation study is part of the continuing exchanges between the Philippines and Indonesia on various aspects of health governance.

    The official said the province was selected as among the venue for the study in Mindanao through the South-South Cooperation for Good Practices in Family Planning, Reproductive Health and Gender Mainstreaming.

    “We were selected for the initiative because of the successful implementation of local family planning programs in the area,” Palomo said.

    Dr. Mec Sanjoyo, team leader of the 12-member Indonesian delegation, said they have so far absorbed a range of learnings through their initial observation studies conducted in Lake Sebu town.

    “We hope that we can also deliver what you have achieved here,” she said in a forum hosted by the provincial government.

    Aside from the observation visits to communities, the local government presented to the Indonesian team the health systems and population management programs in the area.

    Palomo said the team has so far visited and observed the operations of the Health Plus-In-a-Shop program at the South Cotabato provincial hospital in Koronadal City.

    Health Plus is a pharmacy located inside the provincial hospital that is managed by the provincial government and the Dole Philippines social arm Mahintana Foundation.

    The pharmacy, which remits or shares a substantial part of its income to the local government, mainly offers cheaper medicines and supplies to poor patients of the hospital.

    According to an Asian Development Bank (ADB), Indonesia started decentralizing national government services to local governments in 1999 but the process is still continuing.

    The ADB report said Indonesia’s decentralization initiative has so far covered 73 districts in eight provinces.

    As part of the country partnership strategy set for 2014, the government pushed for the observation study for Indonesian experts to South Cotabato and four other local government units in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

    PNA

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