To start off our week we were able to meet with several Barangay healthcare workers and a midwife from Antipolo to inform them about our healthcare system in Canada. We prepared a presentation about Canada, to discuss the various similarities and differences between the Canadian and Filipino health care systems. We explained that Canada’s healthcare system is publicly funded through an insurance program known as Medicare, which was first implemented in Saskatchewan by Tommy Douglas. Medicare strives to provide healthcare to everyone who can gain access to it despite their income. Also, we explained that we as a country are trying to shift our focus to Primary Health Care which entails intersectoral collaboration, accessibility, appropriately technology, public participation, and health promotion. In the Philippines they have private and public hospitals often requiring the client’s to pay for many of the services upfront and out of their own pocket. This can be detrimental to a large portion of the population due to a lack of finances. Therefore, they have a strong focus on primary health care, especially health promotion, because they can literally not afford to get sick. Having community members, such as the barangay health care workers and midwives, to assist with health services is an effective way to improve the health of the community, especially in rural and remote areas.
The Barangay healthcare workers are community members who are trained to provide health services in a 2 month course offered at the UERM. Some services they provide include working with the tuberculosis program (DOTS), assisting with prenatal care, accompanying clients to the hospital, and taking vital signs. The Barangay healthcare workers dedicate their time and services for very little remuneration, just enough for transportation. They explained that they simply do it out of the goodness of their heart because they want to help their community. They play an important role in the healthcare system because they assist in providing access to families and are able to provide continuity of care. They are well respected and trusted within their community and reported being on duty 24/7 with an open door rule. We thought that it was amazing that so many people are willing to help the communities they reside in by dedicating their time and effort for such a small price, we commended them. Further, we truly appreciate their efforts because it is hard to find people in this day and age who will provide services without a large price tag attached to it. Also, it was made evident that when resources are sparse you need to be creative and make use of what you have available in order to be sustainable.
The Baranagy health care workers and faculty showed interest in our First Nations populations and suggest implementation of a program similar to theirs within Canada to serve these populations in rural and/or remote areas. Although this would be a beneficial and sustainable program it would be difficult to find volunteers for the services. However, we did feel that we could greatly benefit from more midwifes in our rural and remote areas to allow women to give birth within their home communities. Utilizing community members as partners promotes sustainability in health promotion programs because they have a unique insight into their communities.