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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Articles worth posting...

Last Sunday(March 25, 2007), two articles published were worth posting in this blog. The first was the article by Michael Lim Ubac: High Birth Rate = Lack of Classrooms. Hmnnn... I hope more articles of this kind will be written... and Ruben Nepales' interview with Richard Gere... Read on...


MANILA, Philippines -- As long as population growth is not reined in, government will never be able to wipe out classroom backlogs, according to Education Secretary Jesli Lapus. At the roundtable discussion with President Macapagal-Arroyo on the issues of hunger and poverty on Thursday, the education chief pointed to the relevance of population management in solving the perennial classroom shortage.

“Every minute, four babies are born. In my limited point of view on this classroom shortage, it’s like every 10 minutes, I’m short one classroom,” said Lapus. The projected population growth for 2007 is 8.7 million based on an annual growth rate of 2 percent. This places the current Philippine population at 88.7 million.

President Arroyo, however, has frowned on proposals to intensify birth control measures in the face of stiff opposition from the Catholic Church. xxx

Read the rest of the article here.

The next article was "an interview with Holywood's most famous buddhist. Richard Gere discusses the Dalai Lama, condoms, and the hoax...

Here are relevant excerpts:

How about your wife? Is she also involved in your foundation work?

Last year, my wife took time off to come to Washington with me for the first time and share the work that I've been doing there for years. She also went to India with me to do the work there. We had an incredible event in Mumbai (Bombay) with 15,000 sex workers. It was a rally to give them a sense of community and also to get them to commit to use condoms. Is this interesting to anyone? You know, I get off on these things. If, as a sex worker, I refuse to have sex with someone without a condom, there's going to be someone down the road who's going to say, 'I need the money. I'll do it without the condom.' A sense of community was needed to make them realize that it's important for them to get regular health checkups and to be a family, absolutely united in using condoms every time.

We had a rally of 15,000 people who were choreographed into these Bollywood numbers. We had Bollywood singers and dancers. They brought their kids with them and their significant others. We started chanting, 'No condoms, no sex; no condoms, no sex.' It was one of the most emotional moments I've ever had in my work in the foundation. These are people who never had a sense of community, no one cared about them whatsoever. In that moment, they cared about each other. That's a huge leap. The ripple effect from that is mammoth. That has nothing to do with me. They did it themselves.

Imagine if you had done that in the beginning of your career, chanting, "No condoms, no sex?"

But I remember a scene in the hotel in "Pretty Woman." We said we can't be doing this scene where a guy would just do it with a hooker. We've got to deal with the condom issue. (Director) Garry Marshall said, 'Let's make it funny.' He (Richard's character) has to pick the color [of the condom]. So she (Julia Roberts' character) was like, do you want a blue, pink or red? That was the first time on film someone had actually said, 'Okay, that's what you do - you are a hooker, you have a condom.'

Read the entire interview here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Ligation Activity of PhilMADE-Sultan Kudarat (February 2007)

Sultan Kudarat: 30 mothers from different barangays of Tacurong City availed of free ligation services, a program of the Local Government Unit of Tacurong City in partnership with Marie Stoppes from Davao City. PhilMADE-Sultan Kudarat also supported the project through giving of T-shirts, printed with FP message in relation to poverty alleviation, to those mothers who voluntarily availed of tubal ligation as a mode of family planning.

shared by Gina Belmes and Allan Freno, Philmade-SK

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Paracelis: Service Begins Where The Road Ends...


Service begins where the road ends...
with that altruistic slogan the municipal health office of the frontier town of Paracelis located in eastern Mountain Province has been delivering health services to the remotest hinterland villages of its health district for the past 3 years through a local health initiative called Community Health Outreach Program Paracelis (CHOPP). Through ‘roadless rivers’ (the cobbled riverbeds as the road itself), ‘slippery-when-wet roads’ ( muddy ruts), riverine highways (silk-smooth banca ride during rainy season only) and rough and rugged roads (bumpy and dusty dirt roads in summer), CHOPP endeavors to deliver enhanced basic health services at the doorsteps of the villages, literally. Pro-actively reaching-out to isolated and marginalized villagers instead of just passively waiting for them to come to health centers (when they are already very sick and dying anyway), CHOPP delivers a responsive if not comprehensive essential outreach package focusing mainly on prevention and early disease detection (health screening) and not merely on the curative aspect. An innovative approach to health at the grass-root level and at the same time a template for integrating the implementation of both regular (local and national) and special (FAPs) health programs , CHOPP hopes to contribute to improving the health of the people and be a health system model to other like-situated underprivileged communities.

What is the program?

Conceptual background

After a visit to Saku Central Hospital in Nagano, Japan in November 2002, the MHO, Dr. Marcos Ayangwa started conceptualizing a framework integrating the Mass Health Screening (MHS) concept which that hospital has been pioneering since 1950s. The MHS has been very successful in Japan and is being piloted at the time in Taba-ao, Kapangan, Benguet as a component under a joint CDA-JICA project. It took another visit, this time a study tour in Taba-ao on 2003, that culminated in the birth of CHOPP.

Moreover, issues like accessibility, affordability and availability of a responsive healthcare have never been more glaring in as geographically-isolated and marginalized community as Paracelis. An agricultural land (4th class income classification) with vast emptiness far and between barangays, crisscrossed with hills and peaks and rivers, Paracelis indeed needed a peculiarly- responsive service package to address the ill-health of its people. Against the backdrop of the HSRA movement (now Fourmula one for Health or F1 of the DOH), an innovative cross-cutting package suited to the local conditions needs to be developed right down at the sitio level.

Framework: Unified, dynamic, responsive and sustainable health services

In consonance with the F1 goals of better health outcomes, more responsive health system and more equitable healthcare financing which are themselves in consonance with health systems goals of WHO, Millenium Development Goals and the Medium-Term Development Plan, the CHOPP works by unifying the delivery of services in one dynamically-interlinked system at the grassroot level as against multi-layered and compartmentalized if not component-specific coverage of some nationwide-based programs. This is not a ‘re-inventing the wheel’ approach but rather innovating to make the system more responsive and sustainable.

The 3 strategic components of CHOPP are: participatory, integrative and enhanced outreach focused on disease prevention and health promotion; partnership village dispensaries or Coop Botika providing low-cost essential quality medicines; and local socialized health financing schemes or Peso for Health (P4H). The latter is envisioned as complementing the NHIP of PhilHealth towards universal health insurance and supplementing its out-patient benefit package (OPB). Its objective is to provide a financial instrument for a cash-less access and utilization of outpatient and outreach services. Recently, a special P4H (for schools) was adopted covering all of schoolers in Paracelis and eastern Natonin. With more than 50% of schools enrolled so far, pupils/students are now enjoying the benefits like Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART) of dental caries, which incidentally is the leading cause of morbidity in schools. Coupled with readily available medicines in major sitios of the municipality through the Coop botika and/or Botika ng Barangay, each P4H member is assured of responsive service, when and where needed. To illustrate further, during outreach and regular consultations P4H members utilize the medical, dental, laboratory services and subsequently get their medicines from the village Botika without the need of ‘out-of-pocket’ payment, chargeable to P4H fund. This impacted ultimately on improving their health-seeking behaviour to not come for check-up only when sick but even when feeling un-ill. Thus, in 2006, a good 11% of those who sought consult in outreach presented no complaint at all. On the other hand, the partner cooperative-managed botika, while enrolling all of its members to the P4H, actually benefited from the financial security of the same (through reimbursement of cost of medicines taken by P4H members) and in part therefore sustained by the fund itself. A case in point for example, is that one of the cooperative partners’ pharmacy actually received 70% of the total amount disbursed from P4H for reimbursements. It is now a millionaire pharmacy. Overall, this interdependence creates a mutually-beneficial symbiosis among CHOPP’s components. Above and beyond sensible economics, it has a tremendous impact on really improving health as a whole.

In short, each of these components is not mutually exclusive from the other but are rather closely interlinked or interdependent of the other. Separately, each may contribute as much to the goal but collectively, together, each component actually potentiate each other. The whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.

Managed locally by the expanded LHB of Paracelis (to include representatives each from LGU-Natonin, Dep-Ed Paracelis and ABC Paracelis) that meets quarterly, through the Office on Health Services (MHO) for now, CHOPP’s operations can be modified or customized depending on the need at any one time. This helps ensure sustainability of the program.

Impact of CHOPP vis-à-vis UNFPA’s RH and Global Fund’s Malaria program

CHOPP likewise offers a perfect venue for advocacy and IECs as a template or framework for integrating special projects ie UNFPA’s 6th CP and Global Fund’s Malaria program. Using the UNFPA’s IEC van, for instance, appropriate films and powerpoints were shown on topics ranging from VAWC, 5th CP best practices, RH and PDS, Malaria, Dengue, PTB, sanitation and a host of other regular health programs. As it is in far-flung sitios , this was not only entertaining but a very effective medium to bring across seldom-heard-often-trivialized health messages. Many came just to watch but most left learning about eye-opening novel topics like VAWC, which often times a topic better relegated as taboo.

Moreover, towards achieving UNFPA’s output level indicator of social health insurance of poor households, CHOPP in a way through its P4H component is contributing greatly to that end. In fact, as of December, 2006, a good 36.5% (7,072) of total population (NSO = 24, 817) were enrolled since the start of the program. Among the active members (3,136-regular and special P4H) and in just 7 months, 60% (1,894) were students/pupils district-wide, with a prospect of enrolling them all once the new school year starts in June. It is noteworthy from these figures that such could have been brought about only through solid partnership and community participation fostered among the stakeholders and implementers alike_ Dep-Ed Paracelis and the strong support of its PTCAs, and the LGUs of Natonin and Paracelis particularly its municipal and barangay officials.

Recently, the Sangguniang Bayan of Paracelis passed the Reproductive Health (RH) Code or ordinance of the municipality, by and large through the assistance of PLCPD. This code affirms the commitment of Paracelis to better improve the reproductive health status of its people especially the vulnerable women, children and the poor, hopefully within the duration of the UNFPA 6th CP till 2009. More importantly though, even beyond that time span is the hope that out of this code, Paracelis can sustain on its own activities and programs geared to really improving its RH status. Like CHOPP’s.

With continuing strong political support at the LGU and external assistance like UNFPA’s, a very RH-program like CHOPP is sustainable. A unique health system model especially designed for ‘end of the road’ communities, CHOPP slowly and steadily evolves to bring to fruition that elusive dream of ‘Health for ALL’.

Written by:
Dr. Marcos Ayangwa, MHO
Paracelis, Mt. Province

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Radio dramas help in HIV/AIDS fight

In small ethnic communities scattered around the uplands of the Mekong region, groups of women come together during afternoons to listen to a rare form of entertainment radio dramas that teach them about HIV/AIDS, trafficking and drug use. These minority women, mostly from the upland ethnic groups of the Thai-Myanmar-Laos-China border regions, are vulnerable to exploitation in the region's sex industry. With limited education, and knowledge about how to protect themselves, they are also at a higher risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS. Formerly, their isolation protected them from the spread of the deadly HIV/AIDS virus. But with newly constructed roads and the opening of borders, the situation is changing. The flow of people from one country to another for trade and employment has increased, as has trafficking of drugs and people, and the spread of HIV infection. Increased injecting drug use has also aggravated the spread of HIV/AIDS in the region. For instance, in Yunnan Province, about 21% of female injecting drug users also engage in commercial sex work, thereby further increasing their vulnerability and risk to acquire HIV. The radio dramas they listen to were produced by an innovative technical assistance project that embarked on an information and communications technology-based education campaign to combat HIV/AIDS. The dramas are written in local languages and target ethnic minorities.

"Radio dramas have been found to be an effective vehicle for reaching young people, who are frequently unresponsive to public service announcements or didactic programs
," says Anupma Jain, an ADB Social Sector Specialist. A new regional technical assistance project, funded by the Poverty Reduction Cooperation Fund, will further help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, human trafficking and non-traditional drug use by expanding the scope of the earlier project. Carried out in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Bangkok, the new project is producing radio dramas in more ethnic languages and covering new ethnic groups living in the cross-border areas of Cambodia, Yunnan Province of the People's Republic of China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, and Thailand. The new project includes four additional ethnic minority languages Akha in Thailand; Tai Neua and Tai Lue in Yunnan Province; and Khmu in Lao PDR and is piloting the production of radio dramas in the Kreung language spoken in Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia, where established broadcasting infrastructure is limited. "A vast number of ethnic minority groups live in the region and speak different languages and dialects. Their collective stories make up the essence of these radio dramas, which help educate others in their communities about the risks of HIV/AIDS," says Ms. Jain.

The dramas are written in the local languages by native speakers, as opposed to being written in English or the national language and translated to the local language. They are based on intensive research on life stories, issues and concerns. "This way, the audience can really identify with the stories," she adds. Once the radio programs are developed, they are translated into English and the national language to check for the accuracy of the information being delivered. The programs are accompanied by local music and sounds to enhance authenticity and emphasize cultural richness of ethnic groups. Once ready, these programs will be broadcast on local stations or through other communication systems such as loudspeakers or community-based radios. Tapes and compact disks of the program will also be produced and distributed for use by communities and health workers. -ADB

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Atheist in the House By Michael Weiss

today's blogs: The latest chatter in cyberspace.

Atheist in the House
By Michael Weiss

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2007, at 5:28 PM ET

Bloggers celebrate the first openly atheist congressman, worry that YouTube will be all Lonelygirl videos and no *Daily Show* clips, and wonder what makes us laugh.

*Atheist in the House*: California Democratic Rep. Pete Stark has publicly acknowledged his atheism, making him the first congressman in American history to do so.

Stark's announcement came after the Secular Coalition for America offered a $1,000 to anyone who could point to the "highest level atheist, agnostic,humanist or any other kind of nontheist currently holding elected public office in the United States."

Hugh Kramer at leftist *MyDD* pens an open letter to Stark: "I am not in your district and I do not know much about you personally or where you stand politically but it does not matter. I feel that you represent me in a way that my own congressman never has because I, like you, am a freethinker and a nontheist. In an environment where polls show that Americans without a god-belief are more distrusted than any other minority and that the majority of our countrymen would not vote for an atheist even if he or she were the most qualified for office, it takes a great deal of courage to take a public stance on this issue of conscience."

Environmentally conscious *Tod Brilliant*writes: "Now, let me ask the perhaps obvious follow-up question: Who do you value as a leader more highly - a person who makes decisions based on rationalism and the desire to do right by his or her fellow humans simply for the sake of doing right OR a person whose decisions are governed by the fear of eternal suffering in a lake of molten lava?"

Liberal Pastor Dan at *Street Prophets* magnanimously argues that atheists "deserve representation, and they deserve to be able to speak freely about their beliefs or not-beliefs. Unless we're going to toss 10% of the population out of office, then, it's an unqualified good for somebody like Stark to 'come out' … At best, my own United Church of Christ represents less than 1% of the population. With ten members of Congress'
split between the two houses, we're over-represented."

And Rob Boston at *The Wall of Separation*, the blog of Americans United for a Separation of Church and State, writes:

"The U.S. Congress is increasingly diverse. This is a good thing because it means that this body more accurately reflects the great diversity of our nation. This year, there are Buddhists in the ranks, as well as the first Muslim member. Stark is probably not the first non-believer in the House — he's just the first to admit it."

Read more about Stark's announcement.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Celebrate Women's Day!!!

Got this from a fellow advocate karol, as she said: kapag napuno na ang salop... mga government employees yan... read on...

National (as of 1:08 PM) (On the ABS-CBN Interactive Website) 8 March 2007

Arroyo heckled during Women's Day rites in Pasay

President Arroyo was heckled by government employees several times while delivering a speech during the celebration of International Women's Day at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Pasay, Manila Thursday morning. The President told the crowd at the stadium that the government's microfinance project seeks to grant loans to the poor so they can start small businesses.She added that the government signed a memorandum of agreement with the Canadian government, which allocates P300 million for women transformation. She then asked the audience, composed mostly of government employees, who among them had benefited from microfinance. "Wala (None)!" shouted the audience.

The President then asked Myrna Yao, chairwoman of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, to explain why the women did not receive financial aid when they should have been the first ones to benefit from it. Yao said the women who had benefited from the project were not invited. Mrs. Arroyo asked Yao why the beneficiaries were not invited. She then turned to the audience and asked: "Who among you are conduits to microfinance?" The crowd again shouted in the negative and started heckling the President. Yao then explained that most of the beneficiaries attended last year's Women's Day rally and that this year's attendees were all new. Mrs. Arroyo then asked the audience in Tagalog: "Maybe this is the first time you attended Women's Day?" She added that nongovernment organizations and government employees should coordinate with the Deparment of Social Welfare and Development, which is managing the microfinance project.

The President also asked the government employees if they received an additional P1,000 monthly allowance, which was implemented last year. The attendees again shouted "None!" and started laughing. Some attendees later realized that they were actually receiving the allowance on top of their regular pay, DZMM reported.

After her speech, Mrs. Arroyo attended a closed-door meeting with Yao and DSWD officials.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A special note...

Dear PhilMADE Partners and Friends,

Time and again we have said how powerful the media is in setting the political agenda and influencing the people’s way of thinking. As such, partnering with media is one of the key strategies in doing advocacy campaigns to ensure success. However, it must be understood that while they (Radio, TV and Print) are main sources of information, they are also sources of “entertainment”. This is why some stories and articles are still written in a sensationalized manner in order to get published and catch attention. Same thing goes with alternative media, particularly indigenous theatre. Though tapped for advocacy purposes in some areas, it is still primarily a source of entertainment in these communities. But as Prof. Randy David wrote, in effect, in one of his recent columns, "Media" as “a social institution” that moulds the public’s mind, should enrich the flow of information in society. And this is done not only in increasing the volume of information but by presenting views that deviate or at times clash with the standard and accustomed ways of seeing things.

It bears stressing that it is when people are faced with unorthodox information, laid down and introduced with such compelling evidence and bases that we are provoked to think and question “truths” we were conditioned to believe in. And this is how advocacy work beginsthis is how change eventually takes place

As media practitioners and advocates, I do encourage you to be unrelenting with our advocacy on RH, Gender and Population issues and concerns, linking it with poverty and sustainable human development... even outside and beyond this project. I hope that you use the “power of communication” you are all so gifted with, either through your articles, photos, radio programs, and theatre performances in educating the public and bringing up front the key issues that needs consideration, especially during this very crucial time of the national and local elections.

You are vital to achieving development and I am quite hopeful that in due time, perhaps may not be in ours but for the future generations to come, things will get better for them...

Working for the same things, sharing the same vision and goals… we’ll surely see each other soon…

Keep up your good work guys! More power!

Sincerely yours,

Russel Aleta F. Solitario, Ll. B.
Project Manager, UNFPA 6th CP
2005-March 15, 2007