Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) is working to address the health inequities in the Philippines to improve the health outcomes of the poor, especially those living in the rural areas. Through its, two-year “Community Health Partnership Program,” (CHPP) health leaders of poor municipalities undergo four modules of health leadership and governance training activities. In between modules is a practicum period that is a time for the trained health leaders—mayors and municipal health officers—to apply their learning in addressing identified gaps in their health systems.
Eight municipalities have recently completed the ZFF program and a colloquium is being held to formally end the program and present the leadership journeys of the mayors in addressing complex health challenges in their municipalities that are either classified as geographically isolated and disadvantaged area (GIDAs) or have villages with GIDA characteristics.
What is GIDA?
As defined by the Department of Health (DOH), geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) “refer to communities with marginalized population physically and socio-economically separated from the mainstream society and characterized by:
- Physical Factors – isolated due to distance, weather conditions and transportation difficulties (island, upland, lowland, landlocked, hard to reach and unserved/underserved communities)
- Socio-economic Factors (high poverty incidence, presence of vulnerable sector, communities in or recovering from situation of crisis or armed conflict)”
GIDAs face a variety of challenges when fixing their health systems. These are:
- Lack of access to and unavailability of basic health services (health workers, medicines and technology, and facilities)
- Poor health leadership and governance among local health leaders
- Widespread poverty, lack of education, malnutrition, and limited livelihood opportunities
These health challenges in GIDAs often lead to health outcomes that are worse than those in other poor areas of the Philippines.
The primary goal is to provide an avenue for program implementers from the government, non-government organizations and the academe to understand the health challenges in GIDA settings and capture the lessons on health governance.
Specifically, the colloquium aims to:
- Share the health challenges encountered by mayors in developing their municipal health system in GIDA settings
- Highlight the replicable strategies that have been effective in achieving Millennium Development Goal health targets such as maternal and infant mortalities
- Advocate for additional support from other groups and donors for ZFF partner-municipalities’ other needs
- Provide a venue for relevant stakeholders to come up with an integrated response in addressing maternal and child health issues in GIDA areas