Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bridging Social and Health Inequities: The GIDA Experience

Wazzup Pilipinas!
Persistent health inequities in the country would mean health services are still beyond the reach of amny Filipinos, especially the poor. Eliminating a complex problem like these require a systematic approach that the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) believes must start with the health leader which should be the municipal mayor alongside his municipal health officers and community workers.

The far-off rural communities would have the least opportunities to take advantage of government health products, services and facilities. This is because of several reasons such as weak health systems, poor health-seeking behavior, absence of adequate road infrastructure and lack of transportation facilities.

Eight municipal mayors from geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA) shared their health challenges experienced by GIDA residents, as well as the reforms to address those health gaps with the help of their communities and the ZFF in a colloquium entitled "Bridging Social and Health Inequities: The GIDA Experience."

ZFF established the CHPP so that the poor belonging to the GIDA municipalities (marginalized population physically and socio-economically separated from the mainstream society) can enjoy quality healthcare services. It tries to at least minimize cases like high maternal mortality rates usually from deaths caused by childbirth complications.

Beyond the financial aid provided by the ZFF, the opportunity to become health leaders among the other local health officials and community leaders that empower and educate their constituents is considered as their greatest accomplishment.

ZFF hopes that the government, NGOs, and the academe will be able to identify replicable strategies to help achieve the country's Millennium Developmental Goals (MDG) health targets.


This event was held in the afternoon of October 28, 2014 at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati city, and participated by the following partner municipalities of ZFF in its Community Health Partnership Program (CHPP), a two-year program focusing on technical skills to improve service delivery, access to medicines, information systems, and health financing: Mandaon (Masbate), Del Carmen (Surigao Del Norte), Hinatuan (Surigao Del Sur), Tinambac (Camarines Sur), Cataingan (Masbate), Magsaysay (Palawan), Matuguinao (Samar) and San Fernando (Camarines Sur).

 The colloquium was a venue to share how our health leaders used what they learned from the ZFF trainiung programs to improve the health situation in their municipalities. The challenge of having GIDA was especially difficult yet they were able to implement significant improvements especially in maternal and infant health. Since the transformations also sprung programs coming from collaborative efforts and some were or are being institutionalized, the ZFF is hopeful of a sustained health gain despite changes in leadership.

While this effort remains to be a work in progress, the program has steadily changed the landscape of health service delivery in the municipalities involved, thus high commendation is in order for the sincere efforts of ZFF for taking up the challenge.

The challenge ahead is equally great for the leaders in public service. May the passion they had during the training continue and sustain their strengths in responding to the health needs of their constituents especially the poor who are the majority of their municipalities' population.

Our heartfelt congratulations go to all the people behind this admirable health initiative.

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