Official Publication of the Philippine Information Agency Bicol Regional Office, in cooperation with the RIAC-REDIRAS - RDC Bicol

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Improving IPP coverage a must in achieving universal health care for PH -- PIDS study

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 9 (PIA) -- Improving the enrollment rate for the individually paying program (IPP) of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) is an important component of the government’s goal of achieving universal health care for the country, stressed on a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

The country aims to attain universal health care by 2016 when some 100 million Filipinos shall have been enrolled with PhilHealth.

According to PIDS in an email to the PIA Bicol Regional News Desk, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in achieving this goal is the low coverage rate in PhilHealth’s IPP, the voluntary component of the country’s social health insurance.

PIDS noted that those enrolled in the IPP scheme are individuals who opt to pay for their own membership. They generally include the self-employed, self-earning, and those in occupations without a formal employer-employee relationship.

According to the study by state think tank, the informal sector represents around 43–50 percent of the total labor force. Thus, having a 56-58 percent coverage rate for IPP at the national level at present indicates that over 40 percent of the population who do not qualify as dependents and are not employed in the formal sector have no health insurance coverage.

The study also noted that given the voluntary nature of the IPP, it has become an important point of focus for the expansion of the social health insurance in achieving universal coverage. The IPP contrasts with PhilHealth’s employed program where health insurance coverage for employees is mandatory.

Thus, for better and more efficient targeting of the sectors of the population that are otherwise difficult to capture, PIDS researcher and author of the study, Denise Valerie Silfverberg, looked into the determinants of enrollment into the IPP.

According to Silfverberg, the availability of health-care resources appears to be an important consideration in terms of the level of IPP coverage, particularly in provinces. “Bed-population and health professional-population ratios come out significantly positive. This result is an indication of the importance of having the resources at reasonable proximity,” she noted.

Silfverberg further explained that in order for individuals to take the decision to enroll into health insurance scheme, they must first see its value. Thus, availability and accessibility of health-care services, she said, is a crucial determinant in the decision to avail or not to avail of health insurance.

“For certain provinces that are more geographically constrained, government providers can address this problem through the provision of mobile clinics or the augmentation of district hospitals especially in geographically isolated areas. Both can be done through public-private partnership,” the author recommended.

The PIDS study also observed that the greater the number of private hospitals, the more likely it is for the province to have higher coverage rates. This indicates that the existence of private hospitals seemingly encourages individuals to enroll into the health insurance scheme, presumably with the notion that if care is sought, they can avail of private medical services with the use of PhilHealth.

“This recommendation is not to undermine government health services providers. By supporting the health insurance system, and in effect promoting enrollment, the consumers are able to decide which services to avail of. This fosters market competition that could encourage unsustainable public health services providers to innovate in order to compete with the rest of the market,” Silfverberg maintained.

The study also concluded that income levels do not appear to be a factor in determining the level of insurance coverage of a province. This is demonstrated by two results—the magnitude and significance of the average household income of the nonpoor population and the real income per capita of the province.

Since income does not appear to be a barrier in obtaining health insurance for the nonpoor segment of the population, it denotes that something else is. Silfverberg noted there is an impression that if the coverage offered by health insurance will not account for the majority of their health expenditures, the individual will see no need to avail of health insurance. She recommended that a study should be conducted on out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditures incurred by outpatient services. If high OOPs are established, this would be a basis, she explained, for expanding the current outpatient benefit package of PhilHealth to include those who are part of the voluntary program as well.

Lastly, it was observed that the size of certain sectors has a significant effect on the IPP coverage levels of a province. Thus, PhilHealth should target certain employment sectors such as the agricultural sector and those employed in manual labor where workers are more likely to have lower coverage rates. According to the PIDS study, identifying sectors that employ individuals who are less likely to avail of health insurance will allow for a targeted approach to achieving universal coverage.

The study also recommended the creation of programs similar to the Kalusugang Sigurado at Abot-Kaya sa PhilHealth Insurance, which partners with local nongovernment organizations and rural banks, as a way to expand into certain employment sectors that tend to have low coverage levels. (MAL/PIDS/PIA5)

- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/3211454980263/improving-ipp-coverage-a-must-in-achieving-universal-health-care-for-ph----pids-study#sthash.n04c0Ybf.dpuf

Monday, February 8, 2016

Palarong Bicol 2016 opens in Naga City

PACOL, Naga City, Feb. 8, 2016 (PIA)  ---  Bad weather failed to dampen the spirit of thousands of delegates who braved the rains and cold breeze during the formal opening of the Palarong Bicol 2016 at the Metro Naga Sports Complex here over the weekend.

Mayor John G. Bongat of this city and Department of Education (DepEd) Naga Schools Division superintendent William E. Gando led the grand opening participated in by some 10,000 athletes, coaches, officials from the various participating schools coming from the six provinces and seven cities of the Bicol region.

The opening ceremony has commenced with a Eucharistic celebration led by Most. Rev. Archbishop Rolando O. Tirona, Archbishop of Caceres,  held at the St. Francis Xavier Church of the Ateneo de Naga University High School just across the MNSC. After which, the public witnessed the cutting of ribbon of the Palarong Bicol Exhibit at the vacant expanse near the entry point of the MNSC.

The parade started exactly at 4:00 in the afternoon amidst drizzles that did not dampen the high spirits of the contingents.

In his opening remarks, Bongat said that the city is proud to host the Palarong Bicol 2016 as this is one way to give importance to the children and the youth, and most of all, it is a show of force of  Bicolanos.

“This is unity in the name of sports. The unity that can be seen in all aspects of our culture and our lives as a Bicolano”, Bongat added.

Gando also expressed his gratitude to the City Government of Naga for providing a conducive venue for this regional sporting activity that he said, “gathers the best young athletes in their hope to dream and transform their lives”.

“Our coming together is also a celebration of our uniqueness as a people, known as “oragon”.  This is the culture and the spirit that we want our athletes to showcase, as we immerse them to the playing fields where they can share their stocks for what Bicolanos are made of.”

On behalf of Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Leni G. Robredo who was supposed to lead the hoisting of the Regional Banner, City Councilor Gabriel Bordado, representing on her behalf, expressed his solidarity with the 13 delegation participating in the Palarong Bicol.

Recalling the historical significance of the MNSC to the revered Jesse Robredo, Bordado inspiringly reminds the athletes that, as it is their collective desire to showcase once again the Bicolano athletes’ prowess, skills, resilience and the never-ending quest for excellence, they should not also forget the lighter aspect of the games.

With the theme, “Developing Dreams through Sports: Transforming Lives through K to 12”, the weeklong event will finally wrap up on February 13.  (MAL/LSM-JRM-PIA5/Camarines Sur)

- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/861454917183/palarong-bicol-2016-opens-in-naga-city#sthash.r3gQ0TxQ.dpuf

DOST Bicol personnel trained on Project NOAH system operation to ensure disaster preparedness, mitigation among communities

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 8 (PIA) – A total of 51 personnel of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Bicol regional office trained on disaster risk reduction and management/climate change adaptation measures to strengthen the agency’s thrust in ensuring prepared, safe and resilient Bicolano community.

DOST Bicol regional director Tomas Briñas said the personnel underwent the “Orientation-Training on Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards)” recently in line with the agency’s outcomes under the under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2000-2015.

Science and Technology (S&T) disaster mitigation and preparedness is one of the eight outcomes pursued by DOST under MDGs, and with the new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) composed of 17 thematic areas, DRRM/CCA have been prioritized for 2016-2020, according to Briñas.

“The training is very vital in increasing awareness on DRRM/CCA among personnel and the Bicolanos we serve in the region. The technology and its application is developed as information guide/monitoring system and within reach of people especially with coming disasters and unpredictable weather changes,” he explained.

Project NOAH is DOST’s response to the call of President Benigno S. Aquino III for a more accurate, integrated, and responsive DRRM/CCA.

DOST leads the National/Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC/RDRRMC) for its thematic area on disaster prevention and mitigation as the council’s vice chair through the concerted efforts of government’s warning agencies, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

Agustin R. Serrano, Jr., Senior Science Research Specialist and Head of DOST Bicol-RML expounded on the concept of Project NOAH’s nine components namely: Hydromet Sensors Development; Disaster Risk Exposure Assessment for Mitigation – Light Detection and Ranging (DREAM-LIDAR) 3D Mapping; Enhancing Geohazards Mapping through LIDAR; Flood Information Network (FloodNET) Project; Disaster Management Using WebGIS; Doppler System Development; Landslide Sensors Development Project; Storm Surge Inundation Mapping, and Weather Information Integration for System.

These components fast track the implementation of Project NOAH aided by rain gauges, flood and earthquake sensors, geophysical mapping system, remote controlled airplanes, weather air balloons, and others.

Engr. Dan Dominic A. Triumfante, Science Research Specialist I, explained the mechanics to access Project NOAH website, noah.dost.gov.ph, a weather information system containing details on rainfall data; temperature; percentage of chances/possibility of floods, landslides, tsunamis, storm surges, and typhoon tracking for better disaster preparedness and mitigation warning/advisories and updates in real time.

He also presented DOST Bicol Trouble Shooting and Maintenance for the 24 Automated Rain Gauges (ARGs) and 29 Automated Water Level Monitoring System (AWLMS) installed in the region.

Project NOAH has also a mobile application featuring same information in the website that can be viewed straight from a cell phone and downloadable for both iOS and Android operating system via wifi and data access.

“With the continuously growing threat of climate change, such technological leap is indeed welcome and attuned to the demand of the times,” according to Briñas.  (MAL/POL-XTLV-DOSTV/PIA5)

- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/3211454978782/dost-bicol-personnel-trained-on-project-noah-system-operation-to-ensure-disaster-preparedness-mitigation-among-communities#sthash.7ZjCCRD0.dpuf

Friday, February 5, 2016

Albay gears up for XTerra Philippines Off-road Triathlon set Feb. 7

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 4 (PIA) — Extreme sports athletes, enthusiasts and tourists are expected to throng Albay province starting next week with the staging of the XTerra Philippines Off-road Triathlon on February 7.

 Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda said the provincial government of Albay is all set to host on Sunday, Feb. 7, the XTerra Albay 2016 that is expected to draw triathletes from across the globe, including our local competitors.

This year’s XTerra is the second edition in Albay while the eighth time that will be held in the Philippines.

The off-road triathlon event is sponsored by the provincial government of and Sunrise Event, under the auspices of Wilfred Uytengsu Jr.

 XTerra is just but one among several international sports events hosted by Albay that will put anew the province in the international sports map.

 Zaldy Santillan, coordinator of the XTerra for Albay provincial government, meanwhile said contingents will be coming from 15 countries, including United States, Japan, Australia, Singapore, United Kingdom, Guam, France, Hongkong, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, South Africa, Switzerland and Vietnam.

Santillan noted that there are more foreign competitors this year because they find the course and trail for the competition more challenging compared to other venues plus the amazing landscape highlighted by majestic Mayon Volcano.

The off-road triathlon will commence with a 1,500-meter swim course at Riviera Beach in Barangay Lidong in Sto. Domingo followed by a mountain bike course downslopes of Mayon Volcano that would requires competitors to pedal 35-km paved roads, grasslands and rock trails.

The run stage is comprised of 9.2-km route to start from Cagsawa Ruins Park in Daraga going to rugged trails and finish back at the historic landmark.

Organizers confirmed that last year’s champion Bradley Weiss seeks to defend his championships in the XTerra Albay 2016.

Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, who captured last year’s top place in the female category, will not be able to make it this time as she is busy practicing for the World Olympics that will be held in Brazil.

Salceda furthered that all concerned departments and units of the provincial government of Albay are ready for the competition like in the aspects of security, security, medical and emergency concerns for the XTerra Albay 2016.(MAL-PIA5/Albay)

- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/3211454636484/albay-gears-up-for-xterra-philippines-off-road-triathlon-set-feb-7#sthash.tLBbHKya.dpuf

300 Fil-Canadians on a "Winter Escapade" in Albay

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 5 (PIA) – Some 300 Filipino-Canadian tourists visited the province of Albay as part of their Winter Escapade Tour Itinerary this year.

The group stayed in Albay from February 4-6 as they also made sorties in other provinces in the Bicol region such as Sorsogon and Camarines Sur visiting prime tourist destinations and other showcases.

Now on its third year, the Winter Escapade Philippine Tour is organized by the Philippine Embassy and consular posts in Canada to escape the cold winter season in their country.

Vancouver Consul General Neil Frank Ferrer, in a press release, has earlier said that this year’s travel itinerary and tour packages aims to attract more participants targeting not only the balikbayan but the mainstream Canadians as well.

Last year’s travel was led by Philippine Ambassador to Canada Petronila Garcia to Dumaguete, Siquijor, Bohol, and Cebu.

The group arrived Thursday this week and was warmly welcomed by the Department of Tourism (DOT) and provincial government of Albay before they proceed to Mayon Rest House and other destinations in Tabaco City.

For today, they were divided into four groups for a tour in Naga City, Sorsogon, Camalig and Albay.

The Naga City tour group visited the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, Holy Rosary Minor Seminary, Archaelogical and Ecclesiastical museums, Porta Mariae and Camsur Watersports Complex.

Participants in the Sorsogon tour visited Bulusan lake, Balay Buhay sa Uma Farms and Irosin Hot Spring with stop for karagumoy handicrafts and pili products.

The Camalig tour included Busay Falls and ATV adventure with visits in Hoyop-Hoyopan cave, Calabidongan cave, Quitinday Hills dubbed as the chocolate hills of Albay, Kitwinan Hill considered as the highest point in Camalig.

The tour in Albay highlighted handicrafts and culinary fusion which includes demo on how to make pinukpok and geonet. The group is also taken to various souvenir stores for shopping.

On Saturday, the group stayed overnight stay in Misibis Bay Resort while they can venture on their own on Sunday.

The Fil-Canadian tourists left for Metro Manila on February 8 and will proceed to Palawan on the remaining days of their stay in the country until February 12.(MAL/SAA-PIA5/Albay)

- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/2571454655010/300-fil-canadians-on-a-winter-escapade-in-albay#sthash.DhZOCIYl.dpuf