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Converging services in the Philippines

In Capagao, a poor village in Capiz Province that is one of 42,000 villages in the Philippines, barangay (village) health workers make certain that children get to the nearby health station for their immunizations and health check-ups by taking them there themselves. At the station, a house-by-house map tracks every child’s growth, access to iodized salt and other micronutrients and the availability of clean water and a toilet. Those children suffering from malnutrition and diarrhoea receive oral rehydration salts from a midwife or barangay health worker.

Down the village’s one dirt road, a small thatched hut serves as a health and nutrition post. Here, two health workers weigh 40 children under the age of five every month and give vitamin A supplements to lactating women and supplemental feedings to malnourished infants and young children. They also counsel parents on child health, nutrition and development issues.

This cluster of services is part of the Fourth and Fifth Country Programme for Children, a pioneering and innovative cooperation between the Philippine Government and UNICEF. Since 1996 the programme has provided comprehensive health, nutrition and early education services to the 14 regions of the Philippines with the highest population of marginalized and disadvantaged children under five years of age.

An intergovernmental initiative of the Departments of Health, Education and Social Welfare, the programme capitalizes on pre-existing primary health interventions including the expanded programme on immunization, the WHO/UNICEF Integrated Management of Childhood Illness initiative, micronutrient supplementation and Safe Motherhood. The ECD component is locally run and includes day care, primary education, parent ‘effectiveness’ education and a strong training component for those providing day care and childcare and for rural health midwives and barangay health workers.

With support from the national Government, UNICEF, the Australian Agency for International Development, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, provincial and local governments throughout the Philippines are establishing health and nutrition posts as part of the country’s commitment to ECD. In Capiz Province alone, 200 are already in place.


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