Subic, Zambales: Many indigenous people living in poverty and in farflung communities are left to fend for themselves in times of illness.
To reach these groups and make healthcare accessible to them, the Barefoot Doctors
Program was introduced in Mindanao by the Foundation of Our Lady of Peace Mission Inc., a non-governmental organization committed to uplifting underprivileged individuals, families, and communities towards sustainable human development.
The program trains people from the indigenous communities on basic health care and first aid, enabling them to bring health services to the people who need it.
The latest and eighth batch of Barefoot Doctors recently graduated at Subic, Zambales after a 14-day program. The graduation ceremony formally certified 29 individuals, representing different indigenous groups across the Philippines.
This means that they would now be able to render first aid and bring much-needed health services to their sick neighbors and community members. Their task includes services to prevent or treat serious health conditions such as tuberculosis, pulmonary disease, dengue and malaria.
Dr. Jason Abello, FOLPMI’s primary coordinator for this year’s program, noted the key role that volunteers play in bringing health services to the marginalized sectors. He also underscored how health care requires diverse solutions.
“Once you teach people about health, you automatically deal with livelihood and nutrition. How would you introduce to them the importance of good nutrition when they don’t have anything to eat? This is why you need to build their livelihood program and community as well.”
Much needed support
From its inception, the Barefoot Doctors Program has successfully helped sick indigenous people—especially with the funding of Telus International Philippines (TIP), which is one of the leading contact centers in the country.
Through its corporate social responsibility foundation Community Board, Telus fulfills its “we give where we live” philosophy that not only support healthcare but also sports, education, arts and culture.
“The Telus International Philippines Community Board supports programs that address the severe lack of access to healthcare for most tribes and groups in the Philippines.
Through programs that train Barefoot Doctors, we can contribute to ensuring the welfare of the indigenous community,” said Warren Tait, TIP’s VP for Marketing and Culture.
This year, TIP Community Board sponsored the program in cooperation with the Commission on Indigenous people and Department of Health to properly implement the training in a very culture-sensitive group.