The continuing saga of Vital Signs

Seven years and four months ago, we printed our first issue of Vital Signs. It was borne out of a health advocacy, which hoped to inspire and motivate all health stakeholders to do their share in improving healthcare delivery in the country.

Before universal health care (UHC), health for all, or Kalusugang Pangkalahatan became buzz phrases, we did our part to communicate it to our readers—doctors, healthcare professionals, health officials and legislators— that the country’s health gaps had to be urgently addressed.

We encouraged volunteerism among physicians and other healthcare professionals, especially in far-flung areas, so no Filipino would ever be dismayed at never having seen a doctor or nurse all his life.

We recommended going back to basics to make do with whatever limited resources we had for health. This included public health education and health promotion activities for a healthy lifestyle; and a nurturing environment (courtesy of our government) so everyone would be motivated to actively follow such a lifestyle.

Our commentaries also stressed then that one’s basic health needs have to be taken cared of, and a strong primary care system, rather than state-of-the-art tertiary medical centers, should be the effective long-term solution.

Right at the start, Vital Sign’s mission was quite clear; and that was (and it still remains)—to equip doctors, dentists, nurses, and other health care professionals with all the news, views and information they needed for them to take a more active position in the delivery of an efficient and effective health care—to their own set of patients, and to the entire nation, especially to those whose means could not afford them the privilege of prompt access to adequate medical care. We hoped to motivate every health care professional to be their brother’s keeper and contribute their share towards this goal.

Our vision is actually a shared two-pronged vision: 1) a truly efficient and effective delivery of health care for all; and 2) a vision that every Filipino doctor, dentist, nurse and other health care professionals can be acknowledged as world-class; and he or she can be confident when standing beside any foreign professional that he or she is at par and competent as any of his or her colleagues anywhere else in the world. And that is so—in research, clinical practice, or public service.

We aimed to make Vital Signs as credible as it ought to be; and the publication would not have had its weight of authority without our very distinguished columnists who shared their opinions as well as deep insights on various aspects of health care. Senator Edgardo Angara, Dr. Ramon Abarquez, Jr., Dr. Saturnino Javier, Dr. Antonio Leachon, Dr. Maya Santos and Henrylito Tacio. From time to time, we had staunch public health advocates contributing their commentaries on current issues, like former health secretary Esperanza Cabral, and nurse-youth leader Alvin Dakis.

We had no grandiose dreams for this newspaper or for ourselves. We’re just convinced that there’s a need for a newspaper like Vital Signs. It’s a task that someone must do. And we’ve volunteered ourselves to fill in the gap.

But to streamline all publications of FAME, Inc., starting next issue, we will integrate Vital Signs with our H&L (Health & Lifestyle), which is also published monthly and has the same readership as Vital Signs. Basically all sections of Vital Signs will be retained, albeit not in broadsheet format, but in a full-color, glossy magazine layout.

The mission and vision of Vital Signs continue. Its saga goes on. And it will only permanently fold up when we, as a nation, have already confidently achieved our healthcare vision.

Vital Signs Issue 88 Vol. 4, June 1-30 2016