PhilHealth COVID-19 response feted by ASEAN Social Security Association

January 11, 2020

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation was recently cited by the ASEAN Social Security Association (ASSA) during its virtual 37th Board meeting held in December 2020.

PhilHealth received the Continuous Improvement Recognition Award from the region’s leading social security association for its “efforts in Covid-19 as catalyst for evolving the payment mechanism towards UHC’s progressive realization”.

Early last year, the state health insurer rolled-out benefit packages to provide members with financial protection against the prohibitive testing and treatment costs for the dreaded disease. Among these packages are the SARS-CoV-2 testing package, community isolation package, Benefit package for those with mild to no symptoms, and inpatient care depending on the severity of the patient’s pneumonia.

PhilHeath President and Chief Executive Officer Atty. Dante A. Gierran received the award on behalf of the Agency.  “We would like to sincerely thank the ASSA Board for recognizing our COVID-19 response in support of the Government’s thrust to curb the pandemic.  This award is a testament to the Government’s genuine concern for those who contracted the disease, as well as to the dedicated healthcare workers who have been with us all along this fight,” Gierran said of the award.

The ASSA is composed of social security agencies from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, LAO PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. 


Deployment of EPP kits in NCR

DOST-NCR and PCAARRD distributed EPP supplies to family beneficiaries in Las Piñas City, Paranaque City, and Sampaloc Manila. In Brgy. CAA, Las Piñas City, a total of 720 kits of EPP supplies including 30 bags of compost and 170 liters of Compost Soil Extract (CSE) nutrient solution for six tower gardens and two vertical gardens were deployed. Each tower garden can have nine EPP pots while the vertical garden can hold a total of 22 EPP pots. Also deployed were one coco coir net greenhouse, seedbed preparation, seedlings, and cuttings. Training on the preparation of EPP bottles and technique on seedbed preparation, transplanting, and crop maintenance were done to capacitate the beneficiaries.

In Brgy. BF Homes, Phase 3 in Parañaque City, DOST-NCR delivered agricultural supplies and conducted a training on EPP technology. Supplies include 150 EPP kits, 10 bags of compost and 50 liters of CSE to cover five tower gardens and two verticals gardens. They were also provided with one coco coir net greenhouse, seeds, and seedlings.

InBrgy. 412, Sampaloc, Manila, 380 EPP kits, 10 bags of compost, 80 liters of CSE, one coco coir net greenhouse, and seeds were given to the community to cover three tower gardens and one vertical garden. The beneficiaries had set up the EPP in their communal garden fence made of steel matting.

Dr. Eduardo P. Paningbatan, the EPP technology developer, conducted the trainings in all three barangays. The EPP setups were already displayed in a communal garden in each project site.

The communities are also preparing their area for the setup of SNAP hydroponics. To ensure the operation’s sustainability, the leaders and officers of the community will manage the production and distribution of vegetables (Jacob B. Labita DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).

Urban gardening technologies during corona virus lockdowns

Gardening for food in the city where land and space are limited was once impossible to urban settlers. Now, urban gardening is gaining interest in the cities especially in Metro Manila. This interest to plant more has become a growing possibility for city dwellers. The COVID-19 lockdown periods have driven most of them to plant their own food at their own homes. Besides, government programs are pushing for urban gardening to address food security and nutritional well-being of the Filipinos.

 Of the many technologies, vegetable urban gardening is the most feasible and adaptable for “stay at homes.” With the right production system, materials, and inputs, one can enjoy harvesting fresh clean, ready-to-cook veggies right at their own space. The households are not just the ones who can benefit; communities with idle lands can be converted into communal urban gardens and serve as a venue for hands-on trainings and seminars.

The GALING-PCAARRD Kontra COVID-19 program has “Gulayan sa Pamayanan” as one of its component projects. This project seeks to provide science and technology (S&T)-based livelihood on vegetable gardening in Metropolitan areas as a means to address concerns on food availability and accessibility.

Under this project, two urban gardening technologies are being initially adopted in Metro Manila. These are Enriched Potting Preparation (EPP) and Simple Nutrient Addition Program (SNAP) hydroponics technologies. The Department of Science and Technology-National Capital Region (DOST-NCR) has already deployed EPP kits to selected barangays in Las Pinas, Paranaque, and Sampaloc, Manila. SNAP kits will soon be deployed also in these areas.

DOST-NCR implements the “Gulayan sa Pamayanan” project with monitoring guidance from DOST’s- Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development through its Agricultural Resources Management Research Division (PCAARRD-ARMRD).

Enriched Potting Preparation

EPP production technology was developed by Dr. Eduardo P. Paningbatan, Jr., a retired Professor of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). He formulated the Compost Soil Extract (CSE) nutrient solution. EPP technology uses compost, coco husk, CSE, and recyclable softdrink bottles as containers for the potting medium. According to Dr. Paningbatan, the EPP technology provides urban families with healthy and pesticide-free vegetables such as lettuce, “kangkong,” and tomato. It allows growing of herbs such as basil, oregano, and rosemary for food seasoning, health, and medicine and ornamentals such as Euphorbia, cactus, and daisy. EPP plants can be hung or set to a stand in places where there is available sunlight for at least three hours.

SNAP Hydroponics

The SNAP package of technology and the nutrient solution was developed by Dr. Primitivo Jose A. Santos and Ms. Eureka Teresa M. Ocampo of the Institute of Plant Breeding-University of the Philippines Los Banos (IPB-UPLB).

SNAP is a soilless vegetable production, which uses styrofoam boxes, styrofoam cups, growing media, and SNAP nutrient solution. According to IPB-UPLB, SNAP hydroponics is  best for home-based vegetable production and ideal for small spaces typical in urban areas. It is simple to set-up, maintain and operate since it only requires enough sunlight, air movement, and protection from rain. Aside from this, SNAP does not need electricity compared to other hydroponics system since it incorporates passive aeration of the nutrient solution used. SNAP hydroponics can be set up in green houses, terraces, and house awnings.

Both EPP and SNAP Hydroponics technologies for urban gardening are inexpensive as most of the materials needed to set up the system are recycled materials. They also require less manpower and less maintenance (Ofelia F. Domingo, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).