|A resident of Cauayan City, Isabela undergoes a routine checkup in Brgy. District 1 Health Center|
In 1971, the Philippines launched the Community Health Organization Program to classify health services into primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. As part of this initiative, barangay health stations were created to ensure that primary healthcare improves the overall health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities.
Since then, these local health centers have played a crucial role in improving the health outcomes of Filipinos. They have not only provided general healthcare services but also served as agents during the COVID-19 pandemic and helped with the vaccination rollout. Additionally, they continue to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent diseases, particularly among vulnerable populations.
Adequate facilities for improved healthcare
SM Foundation (SMFI) has made it its mission to provide adequate facilities and upgraded equipment to boost health centers as they fulfill their mandate of delivering quality health care, even amid the pandemic.
Pursuing its mission, SMFI and UNIQLO Philippines traveled to the cities of Tuguegarao and Cauayan in Cagayan Valley and upgraded two health facilities serving thousands of Filipinos. Beyond the new infrastructure, health workers see it as a chance to put forth the services they have always drawn from the heart.
In Brgy. District 1, Cauayan, Midwife Tarita Ann Ballasteros has tended to patients from low-income households, who barely have money to spare for the fare going to the facility and to buy medicine. She would then give the best care she can offer to compensate for the limitations of their center.
“Nakikita ko ang sitwasyon nila na ultimo pamasahe, wala sila. Iniisip ko, wala man lang akong maibigay na gamot sa kanila. Para sa akin, hindi ko man sila lubos na mapagaling, lalabas sila sa facility na magaan ang pakiram dahil sa tinatawag nating TLC (tender loving care),” she said.
Before, they had to use curtains as improvised medical partitions or lock the health center’s door to provide comfort to women seeking reproductive health care or pregnant mothers coming in for prenatal checkups.
“It takes time to prepare and attend to the next patient. Kailangan pa namin takpan ng kumot o ilock ang pinto ng center para magkaroon ng privacy ang mga pasyente. Dahil dito, isa lang ang naaaccommodate namin. Minsan, hindi sila komportable dahil nakikita ng iba yung procedure na ginagawa namin sa kanila,” she said.
Through the upgrade, the Brgy. District 1 Health Center had its own room for maternal and child health services, equipped with necessary medical tools. It was also fitted with a breastfeeding area and a designated space for immunization.