Sorsogon Floating Clinic Program
The availability of basic health services has always been a problem among the poor. Bringing a medical doctor closer to the people is what the provincial government of Sorsogon had in mind to respond to the pressing health-related problems of the province. The province of Sorsogon was classified by NEDA in 1998 as one of the most depressed provinces in the country in terms of poverty incidence at 54.5%, high malnutrition incidence of 52%, high unemployment rate of 40.2% and very low average monthly per capita income of P4,397. Thirty-nine percent (39%) or 210 barangays of the total 541 barangays of the province which are mostly located along the coasts were classified as ‘depressed.’ Of these 210 barangays, the health status of the community in 161 barangays was in a very sorry state (e.g. high mortality rates, high incidence of sickness, severe malnutrition, poor growth, etc.). Effective health delivery services and providers in the locality were absent. Given these concerns, the provincial government of Sorsogon launched its Floating Clinic program in 1996 primarily to improve the health and sanitation conditions of the poor coastal communities.
The Floating Clinic is a mobile type of clinic using a motorized boat roving along the depressed coastal communities. The vessel is fully equipped with capable medical and dental staff, medicines, communication services, ambulance, and skilled crew. The services offered by the clinic include minor surgery, emergency paramedic services, health education and sanitation, and community organization. Program components include the provision of comprehensive and integrated health and medical services in the coastal and interior barangays, establishment of a cohesive and functional networking with different agencies (e.g. LGUs, NGOs and DOH) in terms of sharing of expertise and resources to better address community health needs, and setting up of a community structure that can effectively manage and operate the program’s sustainability by organizing a women’s group. The women’s group is tasked to take an active role in the different programs of the provincial government such as Botika sa Barangay, Walking Blood Bank, rice distribution, income generating projects, extension education on health and social amenities.
After one and a half years of project implementation, the following were the marked accomplishments in the health and social conditions of the community, namely: a) medical and dental services became more accessible in 88 remote coastal barangays and 160 inland barangays; b) medical services were provided to 10,582 beneficiaries or 69% of the total target population; c) health education sessions benefiting 99,276 persons or 65% of the target population were completed; and d) 489 persons comprising 163 women associations were organized and trained.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 2000 Galing Pook Awards.