Championing Health Together: Zuellig Family Foundation Launches Bayang Malusog Community of Practice

News | by Krizzia Esperanza

Last April 12, 2024, the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) hosted the event titled “Championing Health Together”, marking the launch of the Bayang Malusog Community of Practice (CoP). The gathering served as a venue for learning exchanges, fostering a culture of collaboration to advance the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law.

Mr. Austere Panadero, ZFF President, in his opening address, remarked, “The kind of transformation UHC requires from everyone is increasingly becoming clearer, especially those in the ‘advanced stage’.” The one-day event gathered the pioneer batch of the Bayang Malusog CoP comprising 9 areas: Aklan, Apayao, Baguio City, Benguet, Biliran, La Union, Laguna, Northern Samar, and Quezon. Their respective Provincial Health Teams, Provincial PhilHealth Licensing Officers, as well as Department of Health (DOH) Regional UHC Coordinators in Regions 1, 4-A, 6, 8 and Cordillera Administrative Region participated in the activity. This diverse representation welcomed exchange of ideas, aimed at accelerating progress towards UHC and ensuring equitable access to quality healthcare services for every Filipino. “The heart of Bayang Malusog is really to achieve better health outcomes,” Dr. Catherine Chung, ZFF Local Health Systems Portfolio Director, summarized.

Emphasizing “collective learning”, Dr. Meredith Labarda of the Social Innovation in Health Initiative Philippines introduced InnovEx. This online platform is designed to facilitate knowledge sharing and networking among local health innovators, researchers, and stakeholders. “The only way to innovate is to collaborate,” Dr. Labarda remarked. Accessible at, InnovEx serves as a dynamic space where ideas can flourish, conversations can spark innovation, and collaborations can thrive, further amplifying the impact of collective efforts towards advancing health outcomes.

During the event, Provincial Health Officers (PHO) from Aklan, La Union, and Northern Samar shared their respective challenges and successful practices in implementing UHC within their communities. Dr. Leo Ismael of Aklan highlighted the province’s Governance Model for Special Health Fund (SHF), which prioritizes the institutionalization of District Health Systems to streamline healthcare delivery. In La Union, Dr. Ellen Baustista, consultant, sharing on behalf of PHO Dr. Dan William Dacanay and Dr. Eduardo Posadas, emphasized the importance of enhancing primary care services through improved patient navigation and health information systems. Nurse Alfred Bambao unveiled the successful digitization of healthcare services in Bauang, La Union. Meanwhile, in Northern Samar, Dr. Aurora Vicencio and Dr. Blessie Noroña showcased the province’s initiatives to maximize health resources and invest in community healthcare. Ms. Joanna Manalili, PhilHealth Local Health Insurance Officer in Catarman, Northern Samar, shared the municipality’s successful capitation of Php 9.4 million for first person encounters in 2023.

Insights shared during the panel discussion shed light on the evolving landscape of healthcare delivery in the Philippines. Invited experts were: Dr. Manuel Dayrit, ZFF Trustee and former Secretary of the Department of Health; Dr. Leonita Gorgolon, Assistant Secretary of Health; and Mr. Manuel Pawig of PhilHealth.Key themes included the transformative impact of structural and mechanistic adjustments, the correlation between investment levels and health outcomes, and the imperative of maximizing resources to yield maximal returns. The discussion emphasized the need for proactive adaptation to change and the potential for enhanced political capital through prioritizing health services improvement. Dr. Dayrit closed, “Given all of the learnings you have provided to us, I think the next step is really to rigorously understand your success factors. Through this, we can understand how the whole system fulfills our theory of change.”

As ZFF continues to champion health together with its partners, the launch of the Bayang Malusog CoP signifies a bold step towards building a healthier and more resilient Philippines. By harnessing the power of collective learning, collaboration, and innovation, the CoP holds the promise of creating a Bayang Malusog where every Filipino can thrive.


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