Coalition pushes community-based approach to health


ADDRESSING THE PANDEMIC and future health crises requires “a spirit of shared responsibility,” according to Health4All, a coalition that provides underprivileged and underserved communities with access to better health.

“The real frontline is not in big hospitals but in communities,” said Dr. Tina I. Alberto, founder of community organization Hope in Me Club, one of several coalition members at a roundtable discussion supporting Universal Health Care Act.

Joining Hope in Me Club were The Department of Health’s Health Promotion Bureau, social entrepreneurship community makesense Philippines, pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur, and digital health company Alaga Health.

“One of the values of our coalition is that we put community leaders and medical experts at the same level,” said Carlos Hechanova, executive director for development of makesense Philippines. For systems to change, he added, there is a need to be more inclusive. “We have to go beyond collaborations that only involve specialists or one or two types of sectors,” he said.

No matter how sophisticated the health system, there will always be a point where it will be overwhelmed, according to Dr. Jean-Antoine Zinsou, general manager of Sanofi Pasteur.

“The most sophisticated health systems will not suffice if the populace don’t adopt proper preventive behaviors,” he said. “If you want good health, you must take personal responsibility for it.”

Added Dr. Zinsou: “We got several lessons from the pandemic, and the value of prevention is one of them. One of the best preventive tools is vaccination.”

When it comes to vaccines, community health organizations can build trust and bridge gaps in education and mobilization, said Hope In Me’s Dr. Alberto.

“In marginalized communities, most families ask, ‘how will getting vaccinated help our lives?'” she said. “We need to help them understand the economic burden that might incur if they don’t get vaccinated.”

The coalition’s recently concluded pilot program, a youth initiative for health literacy, was able to reach 50,000 new advocates through 11 different campaigns. The pilot focused on crucial health areas such as building vaccine confidence in communities. It also responded to the challenges heightened by the pandemic such as mental wellness and misinformation. — P. B. Mirasol