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Project on primary health care and disaster preparedness in Bantayan Island

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August 2015 – July 2016

The Visayas Primary Healthcare Services, (VPHCS) Inc. implemented 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 was supported by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) based in the Massachusetts, U.S.A.  It was implemented from August 2015 to July 2016.

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 aimed to increase the capacities of the four barangays to prepare and manage health emergencies and disasters.

The project enhanced the capacity of the people’s organizations on community-based disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM).  DRRM seminars were 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 seminars came up with DRRM plans which included disaster risk mapping, the identification of the most vulnerable areas as well as measures the community would put into place to increase their resilience to disasters and health preparedness.

The project trained community health workers (CHWs) on primary health care to prepare and to manage health emergencies and disasters. The trainings covered the health effects of disasters and first aid.

The project also  mobilized 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 was done through monthly health education classes among the residents as well as home visitations by the CHWs and health campaigns.

Finally, the project established coordination on disaster management between the people’s organizations and the barangay and municipality disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) councils of the municipalities.  Integrated disaster risk reduction plans were drawn up jointly by the people’s organizations and the local government units.

The  project was a sequel to the project supported by the UUSC in ten barangays affected by Typhoon Yolanda which included 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.

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 programs emphasize 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.

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