SULTAN KUDARAT, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 15, 2011) - No more long hours of labor pains for mothers who need to travel for hours in the remote village of Buenaflores in Senator Ninoy Aquino town in Sultan Kudarat province in Mindanao.
“The men would take turns holding both ends of a bed sheet fashioned in a hammock and walk for six hours to reach a makeshift health clinic in the next town,” villager Luisa Patarata said.
In cases of accidents, as many as 10 men would carry a patient to the nearest doctor in Tacurong City, some 90 kilometers off Senator Ninoy Aquino town. “This is how hard life is in Senator Ninoy Aquino,” Patarata shared.
Home to 36,000 people that lie on subsistence farming, Senator Ninoy Aquino lies on muddy, rocky roads, almost impassable boondocks, 90 kilometers from Tacurong.
In this far-away landscape, villagers struggle to enjoy a better life, find potable water, and hope that sickness or medical emergency do not strike, forcing them to make a long journey down to the health clinic in the city.
Soon, their anguish will be over, thanks to the government’s anti-poverty program Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan- Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services or KALAHI-CIDSS.
In 2010, KALAHI-CIDSS provided P9 million-worth of basic services to demonstrate empowerment and immediate progress to residents, identifying 20 villages where programs were needed.
The resulting partnership between the local government unit of Senator Ninoy Aquino and the Department of Social Welfare and Development-led KALAHI-CIDSS project will begin building additional classrooms, bridges, construction of clinics, water systems, and post-harvest facilities.
Patarata said the construction of a health center in Buenaflores, home to nearly 400 families, is a very welcome development to the residents because soon their barangay will have health workers who will be ready to provide health services.
Patarata, a mother of six children, welcomed the thought of the clinic, to rise in the next three months, explaining, “Before I used to take my children to Tacurong for emergencies and vaccinations. The road is very bad and sometimes there is no transport. In the next few months, the difference will be huge. You can get treatment here. Before, we lived in a very difficult situation and now that problem is solved. We are conveying our gratitude and thanks to KALAHI-CIDSS.”
Senator Ninoy Aquino Vice Mayor Emily delos Santos said: “The people have been waiting for this clinic for a long time. We used to take sick people to Tacurong. The people have suffered so much. Today we’re saying ‘Thanks to KALAHI-CIDSS and our government.’ We’re happy and grateful. Our kids can be treated in our village and our women can deliver here. It’s going to be huge impact. We will take good care of our clinic.”
The construction of the community health clinic, which costs P1 million, is only one of the projects that the residents themselves decided to put up as recipients of KALAHI-CIDSS. Of the 20 villages, nine will have to enjoy the benefits of the project.
“The barangay residents themselves decided to build a health center where midwives and nurses can immediately attend to the needs of the residents,” said Mayor Dante Manganaan.
“The KALAHI-CIDSS goals in Buenaflores village is to increase and improve access to and quality of health care, and increase the capacity of the residents. The government understood the difficulties the villagers’ faced.” said project manager Gemma Rivera.
KALAHI-CIDSS is the Philippine government’s flagship poverty-alleviation project implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development through the financial support of the World Bank. It stands for Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services Kapangyarihan at Kaunlararan sa Barangay.