In the midst of the current national debate about healthcare in the United States, it can be easy to forget that, regardless of the flaws in our current system, Americans enjoy a quality of healthcare that is unheard of in developing nations like the Philippines.
In order to shed light on why Missionhurst is passionate about improving healthcare for those we serve, we’d like to share three things you need to know about health care in the Philippines.
1. The Philippines has alarming maternal and infant mortality rates, especially among the poor.
For poor Filipino children, the most dangerous day of their life is the day they are born: half of the children who die before age 5 in the Philippines are newborns. Their mothers don’t fare well, either. According to UNICEF, “an estimated 11 women die every day [in the Philippines] from complications in childbirth,” typically due to lack of prenatal care (either access to it or awareness of its importance), lack of proper medical care during and after birth, and lack of sanitation. Their children do not fare well because of a lack of understanding about the value and mechanics of breastfeeding, proper nutrition for babies, sanitation, and lack of available basic vaccinations. The government says it is committed to changing these conditions, but has been slow to act. Non-profit organizations are essential to provide education to mothers, so that they can understand their bodies, pregnancy, and infant care.
2. Many Filipinos lack access to clean water, which increases their vulnerability to waterborne diseases.
Dengue fever (carried by mosquitoes) as well as gastroenteritis, typhoid, and cholera are all threats to the Filipino population, especially in poor areas where environmental sanitation is subpar. If it is not possible to guarantee safe water supply, says Filipino Dr. Willie Ong, “then we can teach the public to 1) prepare safe drinking water, 2) wash their hands after using the toilet, and 3) dispose of waste products safely.” Basic educational efforts such as these needn’t be undertaken by medical professionals and government officials, which makes them easier to implement by missionaries and non-profit aid organizations.
3. Despite the government-subsidized universal healthcare program, prescription medications are usually too expensive for the average Filipino.
Despite the nationally subsidized PhilHealth universal healthcare program, many Filipinos cannot afford their prescription medications. This is partly due to a lack of awareness amongst the poor about the benefits and use of PhilHealth cards, and partly due to a lack of promotion of generic medications by the Department of Health. The Department of Health has been mandated to make generic medications more available, but change is slow and most Filipinos are unaware of their options. Non-profit organizations are able to help families in the Philippines pay for their prescription medications when the government is unable or unwilling to help.
As you can see, those in the Philippines are struggling on a daily basis with the basic necessities that we take for granted. We need to always remember how blessed we are to have the healthcare system that we do. The work Missionhurst does for our Filipino brothers and sisters is very important and makes a huge difference in their lives.
We need your help to minister to the suffering people of the Philippines. Will you make a gift of $5 or $10 and help change lives?