A picture of health: community volunteers bridge gap between government and community

It’s been nearly two years since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Central Philippines and destroyed hundreds of health centres and hospitals.

As part of the overall Haiyan recovery operation, the Philippine Red Cross and Red Cross and Red Crescent partner national societies agreed with the Philippine Department of Health to construct or rehabilitate 64 facilities, reinforcing them against future typhoons, and install new medical equipment in 77.

At the same time, Red Cross’ health teams are rolling out an ambitious program to train hundreds of Community Health Volunteers in more than 100 Haiyan-affected locations to help bridge the communication gap between their own communities and local government. So far, more than 1,100 have received the week-long training.

The program includes elements of community assessment, mobilization, first aid, water and sanitation training, disease prevention and health promotion. The volunteers are taught to use tools like flip charts, create seasonal calendars and hazard maps to share information, and how to collect and analyse household data using mobile data collection (Open Data Kits). Volunteers spread basic health messages and receive feedback using tools and modules developed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

These dedicated volunteers work with their communities to prepare an action plan based upon detailed assessments. They support and augment government campaigns, encourage people to improve their lifestyle and diet, initiate clean ups and prepare residents for disasters. They also report their progress to Barangay (community) Health Committees, which include Red Cross representatives, local government, community members, and religious and community leaders.

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International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies