MANILA—Since October 2013, the Philippines-Australia Public Financial Management Program (PFMP) has been assisting the Department of Health (DOH) in strengthening its civil society and stakeholder engagement in public expenditure matters. Currently, there is no dedicated unit within the DOH to provide guidance to personnel on CSO engagement work.
PFMP’s support spans three phases: (1) undertaking an organizational diagnostic to determine the current state of DOH’s engagement with civil society organizations (CSO) in public expenditure matters; (2) producing a policy options paper recommending a course of action for DOH; and (3) providing assistance in the drafting of a Department Order and tools that will enable the DOH concerned offices to strengthen CSO engagement in various stages of the department’s planning and budgeting process.
The draft Department Order aims to define the general implementing guidelines for engaging health partners and stakeholders in the DOH’s public expenditure matters. It is being developed in consultation with key representatives of the bureaus, program offices and regional offices of the DOH.
Recently, PFMP facilitated a Focus Group Discussion to generate inputs for enhancing the draft Department Order. Participants included heads of major concerned programs within the DOH who worked to further refine the Department Order prior to its submission to the DOH Executive Committee.
What the Department Order seeks to do
The Department Order seeks to define health partners/stakeholder engagement in DOH public expenditure matters, identify various mechanisms to engage them, and define the institutional arrangements for the same. The provisions of this Department Order will apply to the DOH Central Office and Regional Offices.
Some key principles will serve as a guide for central and regional offices in engaging health partners and stakeholders in the DOH’s public expenditure matters. In the context of the Sector Development Approach for Health (SDAH), public expenditures consist of all expenditures approved through the General Appropriations Act or GAA on an annual basis. Development partners’ initiatives and funds integrated into DOH programming or complementing DOH funding, will also be considered public expenditures.
The engagement between the DOH and health partner stakeholders aims to promote transparency and accountability in the use of health sector funds and ensure participatory program planning and budgeting. The partnership is also seen as an opportunity to promote the DOH’s health programs and improve program strategies in order to achieve better health outcomes.