Paglat is a 5th class municipality in the southern part of Maguindanao. It is a young, yet well-accomplished local government unit, under the stewardship of a seasoned leader, Engr. Abdulkarim T. Langkuno.
Paglat, Maguindanao is one of the LGU graduates of Jesse Robredo Institute for Leadership and Good Governance pioneer course on Building Pandemic-Resilient Communities through Public Health Governance.
The municipality emerged as a one of the three COVID-free municipalities in Maguindanao. According to Dr. Jidel Luque, Municipal Health Officer, this is the product of an integrated community-based COVID-19 response – PAGLAT method: Prompt Contingency Planning, Analytical Response, Goal-oriented Methods, Legislation and Regulations, and Arrangements in the Organization Never Seen Before, and Transformative Leadership.
Prompt contingency planning
The initial response that was one of the earliest in the province was the prompt contingency planning while the pandemic still affects the National Capital Region in February 2020. The Municipal Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (MESU) utilizes all data available from the international organizations regarding the nature of the new virus (e.g., World Health Organization and Center for Disease Prevention and Control). The urgency of the new epidemic turned pandemic was communicated through an inter-agency task force promptly.
All vulnerabilities, potential risks, and capabilities were identified in each barangay. Vulnerabilities on some barangays (e.g., lack of share of the Internal Revenue Allotment form the Department of Budget and Management) were turned into positive arrangements (e.g., centralized municipal isolation). The lack of professional health workers did not prevent detection of cases (e.g., hiring and training of community volunteers for triaging and monitoring of patients). Some community volunteers actively seek returning residents and Filipinos. The work of non-professional health workers, however, was not left unsupervised. The physician, nurses, and midwives worked harmoniously with the community volunteers. Food for aid, especially nutritious ones, was bought from the residents.
The goals were communicated in all levels, horizontal and vertical organizations alike. The isolation protocols were discussed thoroughly in inter-agency coordination meetings, more than quarterly. The rationale for isolation was explained thoroughly from day one to day 14 of isolation. The communication materials were posted in different media.
Legislation and regulation
Implementation of minimum public health standards (e.g., AO 2020-0016) was strengthened in a municipal ordinance (e.g., Municipal Ordinance No. 2020-0004). Public were frequently informed of the minimum public health standards and the fines for non-compliance to these protocols. The Municipal Isolation Unit was established with policies for operations even before assessment of higher health offices (maintaining the minimum standards) and with accreditation from the Ministry of Health. The Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams were reorganized and activated especially for this pandemic.
Arrangements in the institutions never seen before
Partnership between the Local Government Unit of Paglat and the Municipal Health Office of Paglat was deepened, in the background of non-devolution. The constituents were encouraged to avail of the services, although limited, of the Rural Health Unit and Barangay Health Stations while quarantine control prevents movement of people between municipalities, provinces, and regions. Line of communication of the different essential response offices was announced in strategic locations through clear posters. People have frequently reported uncoordinated arrivals of returning residents through the BHERT.
The leadership of Mayor Langkuno was tested by another unprecedented crisis. The resilience is seen in the government and the common people. Good governance was an essential pillar in the pre-impact COVID-19 response. It’s the fuel bringing forth the machinery of change. The journey of bridging leadership is far from over. Co-creation is still in its infancy stage. The local government unit will ensure that transmission of the virus will not proceed in all corners of the municipality.
According to Dr. Luque, the necessary elements for effective response against possible transmission of COVID-19 include the transformative governance of the local chief executive, inclusive funding by the non-devolved local government unit, versatile health workers (both permanent and deployed), adequate medical and non-medical equipment and materials, complementing infrastructure development, and comprehensive technical support from the national, regional, and provincial health authorities (e.g., Department of Health and Department of Interior and Local Government Joint Administrative Order 2020-0001), and binding local laws and policies (e.g., Guidelines on local isolation and general treatment areas for COVID-19 cases (LIGTAS COVID Center) and the community-based management of COVID-19 cases).
As one of the LGU graduates of JRILGG Public Health Governance course, Dr. Luque highlighted that good governance is the energy source of this pandemic response. The mind, heart, and soul of a good leader co-sense, co-presence, and co-realize the patterns, structures, and mental models in the environment needed for a good response even for this pandemic. He also shared that at the start of the pandemic, the local government unit of Paglat sensed the need for a thorough response method for the new virus. The development from those affected was examined in different angles, and the possibility of transmission in the localities is feared. The management group and response teams evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, and this was carefully characterized in the planning. Finally, actions were identified (e.g., community-based isolation) and broadcasted to all stakeholders through public consultations. The ultimate goal of the governing body, the office of Mayor Langkuno, is a COVID-19-free municipality, and this is still enjoyed by the local populace as of writing.
To know more about LGU Paglat Covid-19 response, you may refer to this link: bit.ly/LGUPaglat
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