DOH-Ilocos’ Pioneering Approach to Inclusive Healthcare in North and Central Luzon

Maria Rosario Vergeire

  Maria Rosario Vergeire, the Department of Health-Universal Health Care (UHC) service cluster undersecretary, has stated a comprehensive approach to prioritising the vulnerable sector and enhancing primary healthcare services in North and Central Luzon.

Vergeire’s strategic vision reflects a commitment to addressing existing health disparities. She is particularly focus on marginalised groups such as Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and persons deprived of liberty (PDL).

Addressing the Marginalised

Vergeire’s unwavering dedication to prioritising the vulnerable sector goes far beyond a mere proclamation. It also manifests in a meticulous and targeted approach aimed at empowering marginalised communities. In particular, this focus specifically on Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and persons deprived of liberty (PDLs). During her recent visit to the DOH-Center for Health Development-Ilocos Regional Office, Vergeire underscored the significance of this commitment and emphasised the urgent need to bridge the existing health gap among diverse groups of people.

Her comprehensive vision for healthcare equity involves implementing regular and tailor-made health education initiatives explicitly designed for IPs. Vergeire recognises the importance of providing these communities with proper attention and ensuring ongoing monitoring to safeguard their overall well-being. By tailoring health programs to the unique needs and cultural contexts of Indigenous Peoples, Vergeire envisions creating a sustainable framework that addresses immediate health concerns and fosters a lasting impact on their overall quality of life.

Furthermore, Vergeire envisions a healthcare landscape that is not only accessible but also culturally sensitive and responsive to the diverse needs of marginalised groups. Her commitment to ongoing monitoring reflects a proactive stance, ensuring that the benefits of health education initiatives are sustained over time. This approach goes beyond mere healthcare provision. It also embodies a commitment to nurturing the holistic well-being of these communities.

Challenges in Prison Health

Vergeire’s hands-on approach to understanding healthcare challenges led her to jail facilities, where she observed the unmet health needs of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs). Recognising the barriers created by insufficient resources and perceived differences in the mandate, Vergeire has addressed these issues comprehensively. She advocates for a more inclusive and holistic approach to healthcare within prison facilities. She emphasised the need for fair access to healthcare services for all, regardless of their circumstances.

Enhancing Primary Health Care

At the core of Vergeire’s vision is the recognition of primary healthcare as the cornerstone for overall well-being. She highlighted linking individuals to health centres as the first step in improving primary care. Vergeire issued a challenge to healthcare workers, urging them to actively assist patients in navigating the complex healthcare system, primarily through the provisions of the Universal Healthcare Law. Her goal is to create a healthcare landscape where residents of Region 1 (Ilocos) are aware of available medical assistance and empowered to take proactive measures for their health.

Preparedness for El Niño

There are also anticipated challenges posed by the upcoming El Niño phenomenon. Vergeire underscored the imperative for all healthcare facilities in the region to have a robust and reliable water supplier. She particularly emphasised hospitals needing to ensure this. This anticipatory measure demonstrates Vergeire’s commitment to ensuring that healthcare services remain resilient and responsive to the dynamic environmental challenges that may arise.


Maria Rosario Vergeire’s comprehensive vision for the Department of Health-Universal Health Care (UHC) service cluster in North and Central Luzon stands as a hope for health equity and inclusivity. There is an optimistic expectation that North and Central Luzon will experience tangible improvements in healthcare delivery. Subsequently, it will foster a healthier and more equitable society for all its residents. Vergeire’s commitment signals a transformative era for the region’s healthcare landscape.

Photo credit: ABS-CBN

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