The following is an excerpt from the statement of the Secretary of Health of The Republic of The Philippines, H.E. Dr. Janette P. Loreto-Garin:
Health systems all over the world face various internal and external shocks. Resilience holds the promise of health systems not only emerging from these shocks unscathed but also stronger and more capable of responding to future challenges.
Recently, the Philippines had to contend with natural shocks brought about by its geography and natural features. In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest tropical cyclones in recorded history, pushed to the brink the Philippines health system, already reeling from internal conflict and a strong earthquake earlier that year.
With the help of the international community, the Philippines has moved forward not only in disaster response, but more crucially, building back better for a more resilient health system. Philippine’s significant improvement in responding to Typhoon Hagupit in 2014 revealed the country’s ability to learn from and build on, the experiences and lessons of Typhoon Haiyan. The emergency response is comprehensive covering a broad range of programs, including mental health and psychosocial support.
The Philippine experience during Typhoon Haiyan highlighted the capacity of global climate change to wipe out health sector gains and inflict catastrophic losses of life, limb, and properties. Its impact on economies is beyond words. Noting that the Philippines is the current Chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, this Assembly is therefore called to collectively support measures within and even outside the health sector that will address the effects of global climate change. Yet shocks go beyond natural hazards, disasters, and health emergencies. Political upheavals, armed conflict, and economic downturns are shocks that can devastate an ill-prepared health system.
Resilience is not just about health ministries. It transcends across ministries, penetrating not just government but also the private sector. Resilience is anchored on ownership and accountability, where every Government thinks of how it can be more prepared each day; and the private sector thinking of how it can contribute to resilience and ownership of a resilient system transcending across individual families. Where each one helps each other, each one inspires and motivates each other, each one being a symbol of strength and like a thick bunch of sticks, the spirit of ownership allows linkages, connectivity, and a responsibility to make Universal Health Care possible and sustainable. And sustainability is anchored on a health service delivery network, coated with resilience.
Photo: The World Health Assembly, Geneva (2013) – source: PAHO / World Health Organization – license: CC BY-ND 2.0