#IdeasPositiveRun6: Moving mountains
f you want to reach Brgy. Tacayan in Tapaz, Capiz, prepare for a five hour-trek across three mountains, and a river. There is a paved path that you can follow, but it is steep and shallow. If you slip, you’ll fall off a cliff. If you stop, darkness will catch you.
If you want to reach Brgy. Tacayan in Tapaz, Capiz, prepare for a five hour-trek across three mountains, and a river. There is a paved path that you can follow, but it is steep and shallow. If you slip, you’ll fall off a cliff. If you stop, darkness will catch you.
Children take this route to go to school. Mothers go through this route to give birth. Fathers pass this way every day to go to work or to buy supplies from town.
It is this path that Team Sinag chose.
Team Sinag is composed of University of the Philippines Visayas health students Leonard Tan, Adrian Dofitas, Gian Sampani, Judy Parrenas, and Chelsea Fandinola, with mentor Dr. Philip Ian Padilla. One team member, Leonard, has been visiting Tacayan since 2009. He considers it his second home.
“We believe in the principle of health equity: binibigay yung tulong sa kung sino yung nangangailangan talaga. ‘Di sila nabibigyan ng tulong madalas. Since may youth and vigor pa naman kami para dayuhin itong project na ito, bakit hindi?” says Leonard.
Tacayan is one of the few communities in Capiz that is still afflicted with filariasis, a mosquito-borne disease that causes the affected body parts to become enlarged. Leonard explains, “Neglected tropical disease ito. It’s also the leading cause of permanent disability. ‘Yung gamot libreng pumapasok, kaya lang hindi naaabot ang Tacayan.” At one time, filariasis was endemic to Tacayan.
Leah Gialen, midwife to Tacayan and two other communities, explains, “Marami ditong sagingan na tinitirhan ng lamok. Yung filariasis galing sa lamok lilipat sa iba. Dati, di namin naiintindihan yung lumalaki yung itlog, suso, at binti.”
Concepcion Diaz, chieftain of the Panay-Bukidnon community in Tacayan, adds, “Dito sa amin, di nila alam na meron silang sakit na maaaring makahawa pala sa kanilang pamilya. Di nila alam kung anong epekto sa buhay.”
The team came up with an idea to help eradicate filariasis in Tacayan. They set up a system to increase the residents’ awareness of the disease, encouraging them to take precautions, and enabling those who are infected to take medications. The team also launched educational campaigns, distributed mosquito nets to every family, and gave out protective wear to farmers.
“Nagpa-mass drug administration kami. Pinaboto namin sila ng representative per sitio, at nag-oath-taking sila. Nag-undergo din sila ng training headed by midwife para matutuo sila magdistribute ng gamot, mag-record-keeping, at mag-monitor ng progress,” Leonard explains.
After six months, Leonard reports, “We have above 95% compliance, which means kapag binigay yung gamot ay iniinom ng pasyente; 98% coverage, which means narrating sa taong dapat bigyan ang gamot; above 80% usage of treated mosquito nets; above 80% usage of personal protective equipment; and 80% increase in awareness on prevention of filariasis among the residents.”
The community says nobody has ever done anything like Team Sinag’s project. “Masaya kami dahil nung dumating yung Team Sinag dito sa barangay. ‘Yung mga tao natuto sila at excited na sila mag-zero yung filariasis,” Leah shares.
The chieftain, Concepcion Diaz, vows to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the project, saying that they will pass on the inheritance to the next generation. She also says the most important thing that Team Sinag brought and left them was a more united, an empowered barangay Tacayan.
“Di namin kailangan mangako na babalik kami pagkatapos ng project. Kasi mapapabalik ka eh. Isang unique na experience na makasama sila. Walang kuryente, walang tubig, walang telepono. Aabot sa punto na makakalimutan mo ‘yung mundo sa labas ng community,” Leonard shares.
“Hindi ‘yung barangay, hindi ‘yung pagsugpo sa sakit ‘yung dahilan kung bakit bumabalik dito. ‘Yung tao mismo. Sila ‘yung nag-i-inspire sa amin na bumalik.”
Team Sinag is the 3rd placer of Ideas Positive Run 6. This article is part of the #IdeasPositiveRun6 series, which documents the transformation of 13 communities through the innovative ideas of 13 youth teams. Follow their story as they build a healthier Philippines, one community at a time.