Establishing The Rare Diseases And Critical Ailment Support Program, Providing Funds Therefor And Creating The Mechanism For Its Implementation And Other Purposes

LGU:  Municipality of Santa, Ilocos Sur
Date Posted:  November 25, 2021

While programs and activities are deemed efficient in providing services to the public, institutionalizing policies give a sense of security to the marginalized. Before this ordinance, there has already been an existing program for those with rare diseases and critical ailments in the municipality. Still, for Vice Mayor JJ Bueno of Santa, Ilocos Sur, a 4th class municipality, institutionalizing guidelines and annual funding will create much lasting change for his targeted beneficiaries.

Extending the scope of the ordinance, Bueno made a progressive stand in covering also those who tested positive with HIV. Although such a case is not an issue in Santa, Bueno used this ordinance also as a platform to encourage voluntary testing. As such, during the stakeholder meetings, Bueno ensured that all organizations, which includes the Santa Gay Association and the PWDs, were given the platform to voice out their concerns and suggestions.

Furthermore, as shared by Bueno, his constituents fear having their treatment halted once their PhilHealth coverage was done. To aid this, Bueno created this ordinance as a means to continue their medication.

Starting with a hundred thousand budget upon the first year of implementation, five years after, they now have an eight hundred thousand fund. How did this happen? One of Bueno’s conditions was the no cash-out policy. Instead of giving direct cash assistance to those seeking help, he made partnerships with health centers and pharmacies in the municipality for direct coordination. Vouchers were used and presented to these health agencies to claim services and medicines. As a result, Bueno did not only cut the fraudulent assistance claims but allowed the expansion of funding by saving money. Besides, with Santa being a 4th class municipality, funds are limited, but the policy allowed the municipality to stretch out their budget, allowing more services, most especially in their social welfare and health programs.

In alignment with his success indicators, this ordinance would be considered a triumph if fewer people would avail of the service. As Bueno shared, this ordinance should be the last resort: the fewer people who will avail the services, means fewer constituents are diagnosed. To a certain extent, this ordinance also served as a way for the municipality to gauge the effectiveness of its prevention efforts. Bueno also shared how they continuously study their data and cross-check this ordinance to their present prevention-related programs. Truly, wise legislation is proactive whilst covering the reality of the constituents it serves.

Bueno also shared that one of the problems he encountered before were dialysis centers doubting a partnership with LGUs as they have a misconception of LGUs paying late. Still, Bueno changed this view and proved that by proper documentation, paying will be of no problem.

Good legislation, albeit unforeseen, has the capacity to inspire other legislators to replicate it. Bueno proudly shared how fellow municipalities were inspired to adopt the program. A piece of advice, Bueno expressed the crucial ingredient in replicating ordinances: improve your data and invest in research, what worked in other municipalities might not work on yours.