Project on primary health care and disaster preparedness in Bantayan Island

August 2015 – July 2016

The Visayas Primary Healthcare Services, (VPHCS) Inc. is now implementing a project, “Building resilient communities: integrating primary health care in disaster risk reduction and management” in Barangays Patao, Kampinganon, and Lipayran of the Municipality of Bantayan and Barangay San Agustin of the Municipality of Madridejos.

The project is supported by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) based in the United States. http://www.uusc.org/

The barangays are in Bantayan island in the northern tip of Cebu which were severely affected by Typhoon Yolanda and which remain susceptible to future typhoons and being an island, relief and assistance may not be immediately available after a disaster.

The project aims to increase the capacities of the four barangays to prepare and manage health emergencies and disasters.

It will achieve this with four objectives. First objective is to enhance the capacity of the people’s organizations on community-based disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM). A DRRM seminar shall be conducted for the leaders, disaster preparedness committees and community health workers of the people’s organizations, and members of the barangay disaster preparedness committees. The seminar shall come up with a DRRM plan which includes disaster risk mapping, the identification of the most vulnerable areas as well as measures the community will put into place to increase their resilience to disasters and health preparedness.

The second objective is to train community health workers (CHWs) on primary health care to prepare and to manage health emergencies and disasters. The training shall also cover the health effects of disasters and first aid.

The third objective is to mobilize the trained CHWs to teach the community members about health preparedness and address common health problems, thereby decreasing their vulnerabilities in times of emergencies and disasters. This will be done through monthly health education classes among the residents as well as home visitations by the CHWs and health campaigns.

The fourth objective is to establish coordination on disaster management between the people’s organizations and the barangay and municipality disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) councils. Meetings shall be conducted that will draw up an integrated disaster risk reduction plan.

The current project is a sequel to the project supported by the UUSC in ten barangays affected by Typhoon Yolanda which include the four barangays. The project “Integrating Community Resiliency Model (CRM) in Community-based Health Program (CBHP) in ten villages in northern Cebu affected by Typhoon Yolanda” was implemented from September 2014 to March 2015. http://vphcs.org/advancing-mental-health-among-families-affected-by-typhoon-yolanda-in-cebu/

In the course of the project implementation, the CHWs and the people’s organizations in the four barangays all signified their need to develop resiliency in responding to the health needs of people during disasters, particularly typhoons, which they are vulnerable to. Being in the island of Bantayan, the four barangays are not easily accesible to transportation and aid is not immediately available after a typhoon.

Such community-based health disaster management program emphasizes people’s participation, build upon and strengthen their existing available resources, coping strategies and capacities, are empowering, and geared towards the goal of building disaster resilient communities.