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May 11, 2014

What We Do and Why We Love Doing It...

     Allow me to be ethnocentric for a while and write about what we do in the organization where I work. I have been working with Zuellig Family Foundation for almost 3 years now and so far, the work that we do has never been this challenging. What we do can be categorized under two things: leadership development and local health systems development. I started working under the ZFF Institute which focuses more on the latter. Eventually, I transitioned to ZFF-CHPP which now does both.

     In a devolved set up, the responsibility of managing the health services in the country falls in the hands of the local chief executive of a municipality or city or province. The mayor, or governor, together with his or her health officer, ensures the availability and accessibility of basic health services in his or her jurisdiction. Unfortunately, not all mayors or governors are fluent in the technicalities of health care and it is by no surprise that not everyone of them consider health as a priority. At the same time, not all health officers are also fluent in public health programs and most of them consider themselves only as clinicians rather than health managers.

     Obviously there is a wide gap between the lack of prioritization and comprehension about health care in both ends of the leadership spectrum. The result if this is manifested in poor health outcomes and prominent health inequities.

     This is where we come in.

     Convinced that the key to achieving better health outcomes is the transformation of these leaders in the local government units, my team provides the venue for bridging this gap in both skills and knowledge and at the same time co-creating opportunities that will enable them to apply their newly acquired leadership skills.

     I manage the Community Health Partnership Program. Here's a video presentation made through Adobe Voice app about CHPP.

     The CHPP Team is comprised of young, driven and passionate people coming from different backgrounds. In our team, we have nurses, doctors, development workers, academe, medical anthropologists, researchers and social scientists. We work with more than 100 mayors, health offices and other community leaders in almost all levels of government: from the barangay level all the way to the provincial level. 

     We train our mayors and health officers on Bridging Leadership and we help them formulate their own strategies on how to transform their own communities. We spend more than 12 hours a day coming up with ideas and strategies that can help our various municipalities address their unique health challenges. We visit them in their areas, see for ourselves their situation so we can better understand their predicament. We coach them on how to improve their health care system especially their maternal and child health programs. We collect their stories of success and help them spread their innovations to other areas open to learning how they too can improve their own local health systems. 

     It is not an easy job. After all, changing the world is not easy. 

     Of course, that doesn't mean we don't have fun doing it. Traveling to many places, meeting new people, encountering different cultures, the fun is endless. 

     I am happy and proud to belong to a young group of public health advocates. In this world where the standards of success is measured by the quantity of comfort and luxury, I am proud to be a deviant. Of course we need to earn a living but I am always reminded that it is only a means to an end. We need more passionate and young people in the field of public health where the harvest is many but the laborers are few. I am thankful that I am given an opportunity to be in this position. 

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