ATENEO PROJECT UPLIFTS RURAL HEALTH SITUATION IN RP

Manila, July 28, 2003 (Star)  A holistic approach to alleviate health problems in rural communities has yielded encouraging results since its initiation over a year ago.

Developed by the Health Unit of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, the Leaders for Health Project (LHP) is being conducted in partnership with the Department of Health through the Doctors to the Barrios Program and Pfizer Inc., through its Pfizer Foundation.

The LHP is helping rural communities improve overall health outcomes by addressing issues of poverty, leadership and governance. It aims to form a corps of health leaders through several learning interventions.

Doctors assigned as municipal health workers in far-flung municipalities take on an academic program that when completed earn them a Master in Health Care Management degree.

Meanwhile, municipal mayors and community leaders undergo "capacity enhancement workshops" that cover essential attitudes, skills and knowledge that they need in decision-making, planning, implementation and advocacy of health issues.

The projectís success lies in the learning acquired by rural doctors, municipal mayors or local chief executives and community leaders.

For its first phase, the LHP has an initial set of doctor-volunteers from the Doctors to the Barrios Program fielded in 19 municipalities in Camarines Sur, Western Samar, Biliran and Surigao del Norte.

The projectís learners currently number 19 municipal mayors and 38 community leaders representing non-government groups and peopleís organizations in these municipalities. Pfizer Foundation provides financial and logistical support.

Issues of leadership and governance are addressed by mobilizing various sectors to assume responsibility for health, recognizing that desirable health outcomes cannot depend on doctors, medicines or even technology alone.

"This initiative underscores the mediating role that a learning institution like the Ateneo de Manila University must play in the development process," said Dr. Alfredo RA Bengzon, dean of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business.

"It seeks to improve health outcomes by clarifying, broadening and deepening peopleís understanding of health as the basis for action and behavior," he said.

For more information on the Leaders for Health Project, call the project director, Dr. Alvin Marcelo, at 898-0354. LHP offices are at Room 107, Ateneo Professional School building, Rockwell Center, Makati City.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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