Slum Program in Metro Manila, the Philippines

male volunteer examining lady
3 Manila local volunteers
Dr Fan and local volunteers

Health In Action commenced its first slum program in Metro Manila, the Philippines, since 2011. By utilizing its expertise, HIA conducted health promotion, disease prevention and provided medical consultations to people in urban poor communities. The communities we provided services to include Sawata, Vigro Drive and Bangkulasi in Navotas City.

1. Training and Empowerment
We believe that real and lasting changes cannot be elicited solely from external, but to be intuited as part of the local community. At HIA’s start-up in 2011, a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) team was formed by recruiting local members in Metro Manila. Since then, the team has been playing a crucial part to sustain HIA’s programmes locally. Training has been provided to equip the team with the knowledge required to perform their role. They also take ownership to develop educational materials that fit well into their cultural context.

2. Community engagement and mobilization
The communities have been mobilized through community forums, focused knowledge transfer workshops and facilitating community-led health campaigns. Communities are now aware of and have better access to locally available health services and resources, and achieve a higher level of self-sufficiency. For example, In 2011-2012, we launched our first Clean Sawata Campaign by providing cleaning materials to locals like fish net, bamboos, etc, so that they can initiate regular cleaning themselves within the slums.

3. Improvement in child health
With reference from the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI), our child health programme aims at promoting improved growth and development among children under five. Two years after the programme kick-off, we observed notable improvement in the health status of children living in the poor communities. In addition, our child health programme also includes preventive and curative elements that can be implemented by the local families.

4. Reproductive Health
HIA has formalized the services for pregnancy women into a Women Reproductive Health Programme. It focuses on advocating awareness and access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of fertility regulation and family planning. Moreover, it aims to bring access to appropriate services of pre & post natal care and safe delivery.

5. Prevention and Treatment of Tuberculosis (TB)
With TB screening to identify patients, HIA has carried out the Directly Observed Treatment –Short Course (DOTS) programme recommended for treating TB cases by WHO. Patients have paid daily visit to the HIA office to obtain medication, whilst our volunteers help monitor their intake of medicine, and also track records of their food intake, weight and any other sicknesses.

6. Disaster Preparedness and Relief
The Philippines is prone to natural disasters such as typhoons and flooding, therefore the development and enhancement of capacities in disaster preparedness and relief at individual, community and institution levels through seminars and drills, can be used to reduce risk and build up resilience.

7. Mobile Clinic
Since the first mobile clinic was run for the slum community in Tugatog Public Cemetery in August 2011, the service has become an ongoing project of HIA. Mobile clinics were run on a regular basis in Sawata and Virgo Drive in Metro Manila, serving the marginalized community who fell into the gap of public medical system. Since December 2012, mobile clinic service has also extended to our new site in Bangkulasi. Thanks to our medical volunteers, a total of 20 medical missions were deployed last year, with over 800 consultations made to the local community, who would otherwise have no access to any medical services.