'Good health is good politics'.
Like many local government units (LGUs), Negros Oriental always looked to the national government when it came to keeping it constituents healthy. Since after the war, the Department of Health (DOH) had been the agency responsible for delivering health care services to the population.
When this function was passed on to the LGUs in 1991 with the enactment of the Local Government Code, Negros Oriental appeared every inch like an orphan. For starter, the provincial government was forced to cut its budget for hospital operations by as much as 82 %. Naturally, public health services deteriorated. Morale of health workers was down due to a growing disparity on the salaries and benefits of those that were retained and those devolved. Local chief executives saw their roles shifting overnight - from political administrators to health workers and fund raisers. The provincial government knew it desperately needed help. Fortunately, the provincial leaders knew how to deal with the complexity of hospital and public health care operations.
To address the problem, they brought together individual, non-government organizations and the community in a partnership that will improve and sustain the delivery of health care services. Negros Oriental Governor George Arnaiz says the concept empowers the partners through their respective management boards to be more creative and resourceful in addressing issues and concerns related to health care delivery. The partnership introduced several innovations, including the creation of Hospital Health Board with multi-sectoral membership. The Board not only serves as an extension arm of the provincial government in the financial management of the program, but also promotes community involvement and empowerment. LGUs provided financial and personnel support to hospitals, while the private sector handled the improvement of hospital facilities and provided additional medicine. Six inter-local health zones were formed to further devolve program management down to the district level.
The province's six district hospitals were allowed to plow back their incomes to improve hospital operations and services under a provincial council legislation. State-of-the-art diagnostic, dialysis, drug treatment and rehabilitation centers were established to further boost health services.