Joan Yu, twenty-nine year old mother of three children came out of the maternal health class pleased that her expectations were met by the Lakbay Buhay Kalusugan (LBK), the Department of Health’s (DOH) health caravan carrying a customized bus that conducted health classes for mothers, fathers and children and other health promotional activities such as medical consultations, free basic medicines and games.
“Inexpect ko po na makakuha ng impormasyon tungkol sa family planning, sa tamang paghugas ng kamay at libreng gamot para sa mga bata,” she said. She added that her kids enjoyed it and learned from the whole experience.
Like Joan, young father Christian Murtia who travelled from the farthest barangay in Calumpit came along with her wife and two children also expected that his family would benefit from the health caravan. “Para po sa ikabubuti ng mga anak namin ang pagpunta namin dito sa LBK,” he said. Christian also attended the health class for husbands and fathers dubbed ‘Usapang Macho’.
Both were among the 1,882 residents and health volunteers of Calumpit and nearby towns in Bulacan who temporarily dropped their household chores and means of livelihood for the day to avail of the services that the health caravan brought last week of March.
Fiesta-themed, amidst the overbearing summer heat, Northville 9 in Barangay Iba O’Este, a resettlement area in Calumpit easily accommodated the crowd who first registered and got instructions to be able to make their way through exhibits and health classes. Efficiently manned by 239 health staff and volunteers, the health caravan did not fail the Bulakenos who voluntarily came and were content with the health promotional activities they participated in.
However, Dr. Joy Gomez, Provincial Health Officer of Bulacan during the press conference and post-mortem with the volunteers, clarified that LBK is not just about giving free medicines. “This is what we want to teach our clients, that this isn’t a medical mission. Hindi sila pupunta dito dahil lang may makukuha silang libreng gamot,” she said. She stressed that medicines are just temporary compared to the lessons that they get from the whole experience. “It is something they can have for a lifetime. They an pass it on to their children.
For Mirim Zafe, president of the barangay health workers (BHW) in Obando, the entire health caravan is a holistic approach to embracing health and preparing for the future. “Makikita dito sa LBK ang lahat ng aspeto ng kaulusugan ng bawat myembro ng pamilya. Mula sa pagbubuntis hanggang sa panganganak,” she said. She added that it is the aim of the health caravan to give sufficient and comprehensive information about health.
Calumpit Vice Mayor Zacarias Candelaria during the program challenged families to start embracing health and taking care of their children. “Ang maunlad na pamayanan ay mayroong malulusog na mamamayan, iyan ang layunin ng LBK at Bulacan,” he said.
Congresswoman Marivic Alvarado of the First District of Bulacan thanked the DOH for bringing the LBK in Calumpit. “Mapalad ang lalawigan ng Bulacan dahil narating tayo ng programang ito. Tuwang tuwa po ako dahil pangpahaba ng buhay hindi lamang ng babae o lalaki kundi pati na ng mga kabataan. Ito ay simula lamang, kami ay handang maglingkod sa inyo,” she said.
In said resettlement area, pressing issues are now being addressed by the local government, such as lack of health facilities to accommodate clients, reluctant mothers seeking consultation in health centers, unmotivated parents, and negative health seeking behavior through private-public partnership.
“The health caravan which has the bus, is just an instrument. We want Filipinos to embrace health and take care of themselves now and beyond LBK,” said Health Secretary Enrique Ona.
Lakbay Buhay Kalusugan is an initiative of the Department of Health through the National Center for Health Promotion (NCHP). The Probe Media Foundation, Inc. (PMFI) provides technical assistance in the project implementation. Partners such as Victory Liner, Alliance of Young Nurse Leaders and Advocates International Inc (AYNLA)., Philippine Press Institute, DKT Starmovers and Dakila: Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, provide additional support to the project.
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