Supporting Planning and Budgeting for NTD Services in the Philippines

22 Mar 2024
Dominic A. Sotto, NTD Program Manager from the DOH Metro Manila Center for Health Development, explained his group’s output; Tacloban City, Philippines. Photo credit: Josephine  Caber/RTI International.

In November 2023, the Philippine Department of Health (DOH) - Disease Prevention and Control Bureau (DPCB), with support from USAID’s Act to End NTDs | East program (Act I East), hosted a Program Implementation Review (PIR) attended by regional and provincial NTD coordinators. The meeting served as a platform for regional NTD focal points to present their progress over the last three years and plan for CY 2024-2026. It also provided an opportunity for stakeholders at the central level to hear about challenges and opportunities from regional offices and provide additional support. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this was the first time in three years that regional focal points and the central DOH staff have convened in-person to plan for the PIR.   

During the Program Implementation Review, Act | East partners RTI International and Results for Development (R4D) held a financing workshop to (1) disseminate and validate findings from a study developed with input from local level officials from Southern Leyte province, analyzing local capacity to budget and plan for lymphatic filariasis programs; (2) identify challenges and opportunities to prioritize NTDs in local budgeting and planning processes, and (3) co-create tools and resources that will help local officials prioritize, protect, and secure additional funding for NTDs in the annual budget planning process.   

Key Learnings and Adaptations

  • Optimizing Funding Streams and Addressing Variability: The session highlighted the existence of multiple funding streams for NTD services, both for population-based interventions and clinical care. However, the varying utilization of these streams across local governments reveals potential inefficiencies and lack of knowledge that need to be addressed collectively.
  • Political Advocacy for NTD Prioritization: Effective advocacy in the politicized health landscape is critical for prioritizing NTDs. Participants pinpointed different mechanisms that can support NTD service prioritization, such as clear guidance from the DOH to local government when preparing local investment plans for health
  • Aligning Technical Guidance with Local Health Goals: Philippines has strong technical guidance to support health service delivery, as exemplified by the recently launched Multi Disease Elimination Plan. However, alignment with UHC goals and local health resource mobilization efforts is crucial. Enhancing the sharing of actionable and compelling guidance with local governments can improve the prioritization of NTDs in local health plans, fostering effective integration across disease programs.
  • Empowering Program Managers through Integrated Planning: Integrating program implementation planning with budgeting revealed insights into challenges beyond program managers' control, fostering collaborative problem-solving and innovative solutions.
  • Practical Implementation through Budgeting Tools: Participants co-created and piloted tools that will help program managers, planning teams, and local health officers prepare budgets and negotiate resources for NTDs. One tool – a budget template cue card – helped participants draft three-year NTD budgets. These tools will not only streamline NTD budgeting and planning processes at subnational levels but also allow program managers to integrate NTDs within the broader budgeting process for health, increasing the prioritization of NTDs in local plans and budgets.

Overall, the Program Implementation Review highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts, innovative approaches, and effective resource mobilization in advancing NTD control and elimination efforts in the Philippines. Through continued prioritization and integration of NTDs into planning and budgeting processes, stakeholders can sustain progress, ensure adequate coverage of NTD services, and promote the health and well-being of all Filipinos into the future.

Program implementation review and financing workshop participants pose for a photo in Tacloban City, Philippines. Photo credit: Camille Baladjay/RTI International.