Diplomas, Not Diapers!

by Roots of Health
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Diplomas, Not Diapers!
Diplomas, Not Diapers!
Diplomas, Not Diapers!
Diplomas, Not Diapers!
Diplomas, Not Diapers!
Diplomas, Not Diapers!
Diplomas, Not Diapers!
Diplomas, Not Diapers!
Diplomas, Not Diapers!
Diplomas, Not Diapers!
Diplomas, Not Diapers!
Our 2020 Impact!
Our 2020 Impact!

While 2021 has had a bit of a bumpy start, we were definitely glad to put 2020 behind us. Despite all the challenges that 2020 brought, we are delighted to report on everything you helped us accomplish.

 

COVID-19 created so many challenges to the work we do. But because the pandemic put more women and young people’s lives at risk, we knew we needed to make sure we could keep providing life-saving essential services, education and stakeholder trainings.

 

Thanks to your support we managed to continue providing all this in 2020, and more.  Here’s a quick recap of what we couldn’t have done without you!

 

SERVICES

With our programs and services, many women and young people were still able to access birth control, despite restrictions on their movements. Our clinical staff traveled to remote areas for women and girls who could not make it to our clinics. As soon as we were allowed to reopen our clinics after our lockdown closure, we installed safety measures and put an appointment system in place, in order to minimize COVID-19 risks to our clients and clinical staff. During the latter part of the year, pregnant women were again able to access prenatal care, as we resumed providing this service in our main clinic. 

 

In 2020, you helped our organization: 

  • Provide nearly 18,383 women and girls with their contraceptive of choice, ensuring that they do not have an unplanned pregnancy;
  • Support over 75 pregnant women and girls; and
  • Provide nearly 2,859 prenatal checkups and free prenatal vitamins:
  • Screen 189 clients for HIV;

 

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Many young people still have a lot to learn about sexual health. Before COVID-19, we traveled to different schools all over Palawan, including far far-flung islands and remote municipalities. We taught classes about puberty, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and other sexual health concerns. 

 

Since Philippine schools have been closed since March 2020, we’ve been unable to conduct in-person education sessions for large groups. We’ve gone online with information sharing and consultations, so women and young people can still access information on pregnancy, contraceptives, HIV and other sexual health issues.

 

We converted existing materials into bite-sized social media posts that are easily readable and comprehensible for online audiences. Through different Facebook groups for various stakeholders, such as parents, young people, health workers, and teachers, we were able to deliver information on sexual and reproductive health to the people who needed them. 

 

In 2020, we were able to:

  • Reach a total of 3.6 million social media users with information on reproductive health
  • Deliver information to 1,713 people in Facebook groups
  • Answer 12,577 questions about reproductive health received on our clinic pages

 

SYSTEMS STRENGTHENING

We continued to support our government counterparts with the creation of local legislation that supports reproductive health services and education. Despite the mobility restrictions due to COVID-19, health centers did not have to worry about contraceptive stockouts, thanks to the logistical support we provided, especially when lockdowns began.

 

We contributed personal protective equipment for health care workers in Puerto Princesa. Frontliners and persons under quarantine for COVID-19 were also given free contraceptives and HIV screening.

 

Large gatherings were not allowed, so we had to scale down our training sessions with different stakeholders and trained them in much smaller groups instead. In 2020, we trained a total of 408 reproductive health allies, including youth council members, community health workers, service providers, nurses and midwives. We focused the sessions on how to make their services more youth-friendly, and how to continue providing reproductive health services during the pandemic.

 

Despite all the uncertainties and crises we faced in 2020, your support made this all possible. Thank you for continuing to believe in us.

 

We are excited to continue our important, life-saving work to make 2021 safer for more Filipino women and young people. 

 

Thank you again for being our partners in improving lives and creating beautiful futures.

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Our truck now doubles as a mobile clinic!
Our truck now doubles as a mobile clinic!

We have now entered the last quarter of 2020, and have passed 6 months since the coronavirus pandemic changed our world. Since my last update in June, Palawan has continued to be on modified community quarantine, which requires everyone to use face masks and face shields whenever they leave their home, limits the number of people who can gather together in person, and continues to restrict the movements of people, including young people under the age of 21. Private schools began online classes in August, and the public schools resumed last week. The Department of Education is employing blended learning techniques, and in Palawan, this entails parents picking up school packets for their children on Monday, and returning them answered on Friday. We have been told that there will be no in-person schooling until 2021, or until there is a readily-available vaccine.

While we cannot teach young people about their reproductive health in person, we have been engaging youth with informational and educational materials about reproductive health online using Facebook. In addition to generating content targeting adolescents, we have also created online groups for other people that influence the youth - groups for youth leaders, for parents, for teachers, and for community health workers. We believe that the more these stakeholders know about adolescent sexual and reproductive health, the better they can support young people in protecting their health and futures.

Since young people and women still need contraceptive services, we have continued to operate our clinic with strict safety protocols. We have also continued to provide community-based services to people who request them, so that they can access their contraception from the safety of their own homes and communities. As long as our services are needed, we will continue to ensure that we meet the demands of our clients to help them protect their health.

I thank you for your continued support, and I hope that you and your families are staying safe and healthy.

A young woman receives DMPA: 3 months' protection
A young woman receives DMPA: 3 months' protection

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Nurse Shery providing pills to a govt partner
Nurse Shery providing pills to a govt partner

It is hard to believe how much has changed since my last update in February. Like the rest of the world, the Philippines has been hit by COVID-19, and our country has been on various forms of lockdown and quarantine since March 15. It has been a very challenging time but we are pleased to report that we have been able to continue providing essential reproductive health services with very minimal interruptions. 

 

 When our part of the country was put on “Enhanced Community Quarantine” or ECQ, we initially had to shut down our clinics, and cancel all of our planned teaching sessions, trainings and seminars. The demand for reproductive health information didn’t diminish, so we connected with the public through our Facebook (FB) page and hotline numbers. Our team also conducted FB live sessions to answer women’s questions about reproductvie health.

 

Within two weeks, government health centers reported to us that they needed contraceptives because they were running out of stocks. So we began distributing pills to the health centers that needed them for women and girls anxious to avoid unplanned pregnancies. 

 

Soon after that, one government midwife called our midwife to say there was a group of women who needed their depo or DMPA injections (DMPA prevents pregnancy for 3 months) but the health center didn’t have the capacity to provide the service, and the women were refusing to switch to pills. Our government counterpart asked us to help, so our midwife went to their community and provided them the services they wanted. That was when we started providing community-based services, often house to house, to reduce the risk of COVID transmission as we helped women and girls to avoid unplanned pregnancies. 

 

Since May, our province has removed restrictions that were in place during ECQ and we’ve slowly moved back to a “new normal”. A few weeks ago we reopened our clinics with new safety precautions, including limiting the number of clients per day and requiring appointments so there are no crowds congregating. We also use foot baths, sneeze guards, and our clinical team use personal protective equipment and disinfect each consultation space before and after each client uses it.

 

I want to highlight a specific concern we have for young people’s reproductive healthcare. Even now that most of our restrictions have been eased, young people under 21 are still not given quarantine passes and their movements continue to be restricted. It is less likely for young people to have their own vehicles so if and when they do go out, they must rely on public transportation, which is now reduced and more expensive. We anticipate that we will likely be in and out of quarantine periods for the next year or two, or until a vaccine is discovered, and expect that young people’s movements may continue to be limited. This places them at higher risk for unplanned pregnancies, so we have committed to continuing to provide home-based and community-based care for the young people who contact our clinic for services. 

 

We still do not know when we will be able to teach in schools and conduct in-person trainings again, but in the meantime we have begun creating standalone educational materials for our stakeholders that can be accessed online, and we plan to continue engagements that way for the time being.

 

This is not where we expected to be at the middle of the year, but we are grateful that we have been able to continue providing essential direct healthcare services, while keeping our staff and our clients safe. 

 

I thank you for your continued support, and I hope that you and your families are staying safe and healthy. 

Midwife May providing women with Depo injections
Midwife May providing women with Depo injections
Nurse Piety providing a young person her Depo shot
Nurse Piety providing a young person her Depo shot
Nurse Daisy providing info on pills from our car
Nurse Daisy providing info on pills from our car
Sneeze guards separating staff from our clients
Sneeze guards separating staff from our clients

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Janet* showing off her new contraceptive implant
Janet* showing off her new contraceptive implant

We met Janet* in the municipality of Culion, an hour and a half boat ride  from Coron, Palawan. At the age of 18, she already has one child. Studies show that girls who get pregnant as  teenagers are likely to get pregnant again before they reach the age of 20. But not Janet, because she is one of the many women who got contraceptive implants, thanks to our nurses and midwives who traveled all the way to their far-flung island.  

When Janet gave birth, she had to take a leave of absence from school, but she dreamed of returning to finish senior high school. Her mother was willing to help care for the baby, but Janet worried about what would happen if she had a second unplanned pregnancy. Now, Janet can instead focus on catching up on the work she missed, and moving forward with her studies, as the implant enables women to prevent unplanned pregnancy for up to 3 years. 

While our nurses and midwives were in Culion providing contraceptive services, we also had teachers in other parts of our city and province, providing age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education in schools. Since your contribution to our project, our educators taught 299 students from Palawan State University the basics of reproductive health and HIV, and taught 1,176 5th and 6th graders about empathy in order to reduce bullying and peer pressure. Our team will continue to reach thousands of young people in the coming months -- in 2019 they taught over 15,000 young people in 55 schools!

We also continued to run our two clinics in Puerto Princesa, one of which is a Youth Clinic catering exclusively to young people aged 24 and below. In the two months since you donated to our project, the Youth Clinic provided services to nearly 300 young people.

We’ve started 2020 off strong and are continuing to provide education and clinical services to Palawan’s young people. Thank you for your help and for continuing to support us as we work to reduce teen pregnancy and keep girls in school!

*not her real name

ROH Staffer, Connie, teaching kids about empathy
ROH Staffer, Connie, teaching kids about empathy
ROH Staffer, Jan, teaching college kids about RH
ROH Staffer, Jan, teaching college kids about RH

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Organization Information

Roots of Health

Location: N Ferrisburgh, VT - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ROHorg
Project Leader:
Amina Swanepoel
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan Philippines
$9,175 raised of $10,000 goal
 
131 donations
$825 to go
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