This is an Entry to the Government Best Practice Recognition Awards
Uswag Vans to the Rescue
Local Government Unit of San Agustin, Romblon
Best practice Focus Area(s)
Leadership, Strategic planning and deployment, Customer and citizen focus
The Local Government Unit of San Agustin Romblon created three (3) USWAG Vans, so-called Medical Response and Rescue Vehicles (MRRVs) in 2018 to enhance the LGUs capability to serve as an immediate response to medical emergencies and disasters and to augment the health referral system municipality-wide while also including inter-island neighboring local government units.
Background and Problem
In previous years, families sought assistance from LGU whenever emergency cases were brought to Romblon Provincial Hospital. These emergency medical cases include referrals from a nearby district hospital and those transported from other neighboring islands via the municipality by ferry or pump boat. The nearby hospital, managed by the Provincial Government, operating under Economic Enterprise, puts patients’ families under constraint to raise money to defray costs for fees pertaining to the use of hospital ambulance, driver and escort personnel, adding financial concerns, especially to indigent families. The Rural Health Unit ambulance is free of charge with additional ﬁnancial assistance to the families, as per assessment by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Ofﬁce. When the RHU ambulance got caught and was buried in a landslide uphill, this brought concern to the administration and to the facility because of its non-availability. Despite the decreased capability to respond, the LGU continued providing ﬁnancial assistance, until last year, the Municipal Mayor intervened because of the health need. Thus, the LGU invested in the purchase of three (3) USWAG vans, the MRRVs, in answer to this dilemma.
Solution and Impact
The health situation was opened to discussion with local stakeholders through a Local Health Board, and recognizing that an immediate response was needed, the LGU invested to purchase vehicles that would best serve and suited to the necessity. This was made possible as part of our LGU’s Annual Investment Plan 2018. The vehicles, known as USWAG Vans stand for “moving or pressing forward” and were designed as Medical and Rescue Vehicles. In April 2018, the vehicles were blessed and were immediately placed into operation under the policies and guidelines set by the LGU. To operationalize, the LGU hired additional employees, three (3) drivers, and provided allotments for gasoline for free and payments for escort personnel (midwives/nurses) that come along during transportation. An internal arrangement with the nearby hospital and Rural Health Unit ensured that for emergency medical cases, standby medical personnel are onboard during transport whether daytime or nighttime.
This innovation gained greater confidence among clients and health facilities within the municipality because the service vehicle provided by the municipal government was made easily available and accessible, especially to the indigent families. It provided the means to bring the local government closer to its people and was one of the accomplishments of the present administration in giving full priority to healthcare during their terms
Since the time it was first put into operation, the San Agustin USWAG Vans has responded to 3,123 requests and referrals and is still continuing its service to the people. With a P 4.5 M investment by the LGU from its AIP 2018, so far, said accomplishments translate to a fuel/gasoline expenses of P 1.1 M, the total expenditure for hired drivers, escort health personnel of > P 650,000.00 +, plus maintenance expenditures for the vehicles.
The USWAG vans of the municipality have been gaining recognition from among Municipal Mayors of the Romblon Province so that LGU San Agustin Romblon has become a vital part and has been playing a role in the health referral system in the province. By far, this is a ﬁrst initiative of its kind from the Province.