South Cot mulls replicating health caravan in all towns

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/10 October) – Upbeat with the impact of the Department of Health (DOH)-led caravan in T’boli town in South Cotabato last week, provincial health officials are planning to adopt the initiative as part of its flagship programs in the area.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido, South Cotabato health officer, said they are currently studying the ongoing implementation of the DOH’s Lakbay Buhay Kalusugan (LBK) program for its replication within the province’s 10 towns and lone city.

The LBK, which mainly features a roving bus that offers various health services, rolled into the province last week for a two-day health promotion caravan.

Around 1,500 poor residents from five remote villages in T’boli town in South Cotabato received “critical health information and services” from DOH experts and about a hundred local volunteer health workers in a “fiesta-like atmosphere.”

“We found LBK’s strategy in terms of the delivery and promotion of basic health information and services as quite unique and effective.

Its fiesta-like atmosphere helped attract and encourage more local residents to avail of its lined up services,” Aturdido said.

The health official said they are initially planning to utilize the Integrated Provincial Health Office’s rarely-used “Erap” mobile clinic for its own version of the LBK.

He said they sent the mobile clinic, which was granted to the provincial government by former President Joseph Estrada, to Davao City Monday to undergo some customization in preparation for the launching of the local LBK initiative.

Aturdido said the planned local LBK program will take off from the provincial government’s regular outreach program, which is held once every two months.

He said the outreach program was earlier launched by the provincial government to directly deliver its basic services to residents of 30 “poorest of the poor” barangays of the province.

Using the “South Cotabato convergence model,” he said personnel from various provincial government offices reach out to local residents by way of rendering medical, dental and health-related services, feeding program, agriculture-related technical assistance, among others.

“The HealthPro program is currently assisting the IPHO in drawing up our own replication model for the LBK,” Aturdido said.

HealthPRO stands for the Health Promotion and Communication Project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAid). The project provides technical assistance for the promotion of health and communication activities in rural communities.

The DOH launched the LBK program earlier this year “to help bring quality health information, education and services to Filipino people especially in remote communities.”

In South Cotabato, the LBK caravan stopped for two days in Barangay Aflek in T’boli and served residents from the village as well as from the neighboring barangays Talkon, Magulong, Lambangan and Datal Bob.

Aside from the mobile health bus, the LBK also featured a health promotion arena of interactive exhibits; health classes and wellness activities; storytelling sessions; cooking demos; games and raffles; dance contests; and, entertainment shows focused on safe motherhood, child nutrition and family health.

The South Cotabato leg was the eighth in a series of 10 destinations that started in Capas, Tarlac in March and the third stop so far for the program in Mindanao.

The LBK carries the message “Walang Iwanan sa Biyaheng Kalusugan” (No one left behind in the journey to health) to highlight the national government’s goal of “providing universal access to quality health care.” (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)